President’s Brief – Nov. 2023General (Ret.) Mark A. Welsh III
November 21, 2023
Members of the Aggie Family,
As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, like many of you, I’m counting my blessings. And that’s exactly what it’s been to work with you over the past four months. Texas A&M University is truly blessed with an incredible faculty, unbelievable staff and the best students on the planet. It’s a privilege to serve here beside you.
It’s always a joy to welcome students home and back into the Aggie Family each fall. Students, you’re the reason the rest of us show up every day. You matter, in a big way, to all of us, to Texas A&M and to our future. You inspire us, and we consider it an honor to be part of this wonderful chapter of your lives.
It’s also a joy for me to watch our faculty and staff go above and beyond to ensure this university is an outstanding place for our students to learn and grow, fulfilling our most important mission — preparing Aggies, young and old, to chase their dreams.
And the greatest joy for me comes from witnessing your individual and collective acts of service, compassion, loyalty, dedication and generosity. These attributes are what make our Aggie community so special and what I cherish most about Texas A&M.
During this season of giving thanks, please know that I am grateful for each of you and blessed to be part of this spectacular community. Before you head out for this well-deserved holiday break, here are a few important things you should know:
- QUICK-LOOK IMPLEMENTATION: Our leads continue to make progress on the quick-look assessment decisions. Below are a few highlights of interest:
- Elevating the provost position to executive vice president (EVP) and provost brought changes to reporting lines for several existing units. It also required reestablishment of the Enrollment Management unit. We are nearing completion in transitioning these offices and other divisions that were identified as areas that should report to the Office of the Provost.
- To support the implementation of our new budget model, a Strategic Budget Council has been formed and recently met to align on the university’s budgetary needs. This council includes representation from key constituencies across Texas A&M, including Faculty Senate, University Staff Council and the Student Government Association.
- A draft statement for the university regarding the value of academic freedom is under review by the EVP and provost. The same task force also identified a need to establish an Academic Freedom Review Committee and is developing a proposal for my consideration, including a recommendation for an annual workshop open to the entire university community to provide updates related to this important topic.
- Our remote and branch campuses are also undergoing a quick-look assessment. The report for Galveston is being prepared, and meetings with our other branch campuses are scheduled to conclude before the end of November.
- The space allocation study is nearing completion. We will be sharing the results for discussion and comment prior to making final decisions on the recommendations presented.
- OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT RESTRUCTURING: Last month I mentioned my vision for the Office of the President — a nimble, collaborative team that directly supports the initiatives and priorities of the president and coordinates those efforts in a proactive, transparent way. Today, I’m happy to share a staffing update, as well as further information on my vision for the office. In addition to Dr. Susan Ballabina assuming the role of chief of staff, I’m pleased to share that Alexandra “Ale” Rainey has joined the team as deputy chief of staff. Ale comes to us from the Texas A&M Foundation, where she supported development efforts for the Bush School of Government and Public Service. I have also identified core supporting functions within the new team, including government relations, presidential communications and engagement, community engagement and policy. Collectively, the Office of the President will oversee the university’s strategic priorities and its interactions with various internal and external constituencies, including the Bryan-College Station community, the Texas Legislature, The Texas A&M University System and the Board of Regents, as well as former students, donors and other support groups. I look forward to sharing additional information in the coming weeks on the superstars who lead the supporting functions in the office and on ways you can best engage with them.
- STATE OF THE UNIVERSITY: Finally, please make plans to join me for my State of the University address on Nov. 29 in Rudder Theatre Complex, where I'll reflect on recent celebrations and share more about my vision for our future. Coffee and networking will begin at 9:30 a.m., followed by remarks at 10 a.m. If you haven’t, please don’t forget to RSVP for in-person attendance. And if you are located at a branch or remote campus, please plan to tune in live.
In closing, no matter how you choose to celebrate this Thanksgiving, I hope you can spend quality time doing what you enjoy with those who matter most to you. For Betty and me, that means joining our children and their families for way too much great food, injury-defying football with the grandkids and moment after moment counting life’s blessings. By the way, congratulations … you’re in the top 3 of the things that matter most to me!
Please travel safe. Have a very happy Thanksgiving, and Gig ‘em!
General (Ret.) Mark A. Welsh III, Interim President