Aerial view of TAMU

President’s Brief - February 2024

General (Ret.) Mark A. Welsh III

February 21, 2024

Members of the Aggie Family,

I know the Board of Regents’ vote to work toward closing our Qatar campus by 2028 came as a surprise to many of you. Discussions with the A&M System and Board of Regents related to our operations in Qatar have been ongoing for several months. We have shared a lot of information about the success of our academic and research activity there, as well as the pride we feel in watching the academic and professional performance of both current and former students of Texas A&M University at Qatar. Our board members share that pride.

Based on questions that have arisen from our faculty, staff and students, and recent media stories with assumptions about why this decision was made, I think it’s important to reiterate the facts.

I want to be very clear about what wasn’t part of the decision, and that is the disinformation campaign regarding the type of research we do at Texas A&M at Qatar. I believe I was very clear in refuting that information when it came out, and the regents were also clear in saying that it did not have any influence on their decision.

Qatar is our only remote campus outside the United States, and the regents’ decision directs us to maintain campuses in the U.S. This will enable us to focus on the university’s land-, sea- and space-grant mission. That doesn’t mean we’re going to move away from international collaboration or research or solving global problems. The global exchange of research and education will continue to be integral to our world-class campuses here in the U.S. I’ve been told we are currently collaborating on research projects and academic/scholarly activity in around 100 different countries. That’s incredible … and we shouldn’t slow down!

Going forward in planning for this transition, our faculty, staff and students in Qatar are priority number one. To that end, a transition team was mobilized last week chaired by Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Dr. N.K. Anand. This team will work with Qatar Foundation to begin the multiyear wind-down process. Beyond the formation of this team, no major programming decisions have been made and there are still many unknowns, but we are committed to minimizing disruptions for our Aggie Family in Qatar and addressing their questions and concerns in a timely manner. Should any of you have questions on the campus closure, I encourage you to visit the dedicated webpage where the transition team will add relevant information as the process moves forward. You can also send any questions or concerns via email to

Moving to other areas, here are a few important things you should know:


In addition to the Qatar campus closure, there were several other actions taken during the February meeting that impact our university. Of note:

  • Regents approved building a $51 million Engineering Classroom and Research Building at the Galveston campus. Thanks to support from the Texas Legislature, the building will allow for growth of the freshman engineering program as well as other programs, including environmental engineering, ocean engineering, and computer science and engineering. Construction is set to begin this spring.
  • Regents approved spending $15 million to expand lab space on two levels of the Engineering Medicine (EnMed) Tower in the Texas Medical Center in Houston. The construction will provide on-site research capabilities to help attract world-class researchers to the School of Engineering Medicine and this exciting degree program. Construction on the project is scheduled to start in July.
  • Regents also approved the establishment of the Virtual Production Institute, which will position Texas A&M as a leader in research and education using extended reality technology to solve challenges across numerous industries. Thanks to support from the Texas Legislature and the backing of the Board of Regents, this new institute – housed in the School of Performance, Visualization and Fine Arts – will expand our ability to prepare students for the jobs of the future like never before.
  • Finally, regents approved exterior renovations to the Academic Building with the design phase beginning in April. Once the design is complete, the plans will be taken back to the regents for final review and approval to proceed with construction this fall.


Leads of our quick-look assessment decisions continue to make excellent progress. Below are a few highlights:

  • Regarding naming preferences of our colleges and schools, feedback from faculty, deans and the Faculty Senate has been received. The next step is to present the changes to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board at their March meeting. If approved, changes will go into effect in August.
  • The final space allocation study report, which sought to better utilize space on campus, was provided to the president’s cabinet and deans last week. These leaders were asked to coordinate with one another, the Division of Facilities and Energy Services and our Vice President for Planning, Assessment and Strategy to execute the recommendations quickly and to limit disruption in services to our faculty, staff and students. If your organizational unit is impacted by decisions within the report, your respective dean or vice president will be in communication on next steps.
  • Committees for our two other science projects, the capacity study and student experience study, have been formed and are already actively meeting.
  • Finally, in late January, I visited the Galveston campus to relay decisions on the branch campus’ quick-look assessment. Following that visit, the final report, associated leads and deadlines were shared with Galveston campus faculty, staff and students. Beginning in March, I’ll plan to provide relevant status updates on Galveston’s progress with the university community. By the end of this week, we also expect to release the McAllen quick-look report for feedback and comments from McAllen campus employees and students.


There are a few recent updates to the president’s cabinet and searches for our permanent dean positions:

President’s Cabinet:

  • I’m pleased to share that a search committee for our next Chief Operating Officer has been established. The committee, chaired by Deborah Wright, associate vice president for budget and planning, includes university faculty and staff representatives, along with our partners at the A&M System. The committee will meet this week to start work on finding our next COO.
  • Our search for the next Director of Athletics continues. As I shared last month, Dave Dunlap ’83 is leading a seven-member committee to conduct the national search. The committee has held several meetings and begun the interview process. I’m hopeful that we’ll have the next leader of Aggie Athletics identified within the next three to four weeks.

Dean Searches:

I want to wrap up this month’s update by sharing some of the many positive things going on across Texas A&M this semester. The spring is always a busy time across our campuses, kicking off in February with our largest campuswide open house, Aggieland Saturday. This year we hosted the largest Aggieland Saturday in our history, with more than 24,000 registered attendees. It’s an incredible event where so many of you – our amazing faculty, staff and students – come together as volunteers to ensure these prospective students and their families get a glimpse of what Aggieland is all about in just one day. To those of you who volunteered your time to make this year’s event a success, thank you! Betty and I had a great time speaking with future Aggies and their parents … and we hope to see them back here as students soon!

But Aggieland Saturday is just the start. Over the next few weeks and months, we’ll take part in many of our time-honored traditions: Silver Taps, The Big Event, Muster, Ring Day and of course, our spring sporting events where we get to cheer on our hard-working and incredibly talented student-athletes. I hope you’ll make plans to join in on some of the fun in store this semester. It’s a real treat to be part of a community that offers such a wide array of campus activities and events. There is truly something for everyone!

As always, thanks for all you do to make Texas A&M great. I encourage you to read on to see a few of the incredible things happening because of your hard work. And don’t forget, I want to hear from you. Please email with your thoughts, questions and ideas.

Thanks and Gig ’em!

General (Ret.) Mark A. Welsh III, President

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