Aerial view of TAMU

State of the University Recap

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

December 1, 2023

Members of the Aggie Family,

Thank you to those of you who joined the State of the University address. I was blown away by how many of you took time out of your busy schedules to attend, which is a testament to how much you care about Texas A&M and our collective future. It was also great to see familiar and new faces in the audience, including Coach Mike Elko. It says a lot about Coach Elko’s dedication and desire to once again be a part of the Aggie Family that he stopped by the meeting. If you weren’t able to tune in live, I hope you’ll watch the recording as time allows.

I think it bears repeating how impressed – and thankful – I am that after all the challenges we faced over the summer, you decided to walk away from the things that divided us and leaned in to help get us back on track. I believe we’re getting back on track because of you, and things will only continue to get better because of you.

As I mentioned, this wasn’t your typical State of the University address. I didn’t announce new multi-million-dollar grant programs or capital construction projects. While I look forward to getting back to all that at some point, now’s just not the time. My goal with this address was to quickly recap where we’ve been, shine light on where I see us today and spend most of our time together on where we’re headed next.

As we think about the road ahead, there are two important “science projects” from the quick-look assessment kicking off soon and eight new priorities I proposed for the short- and long-term that will inform our future actions. To recap:

Science projects 

  • Capacity and student experience studies – These studies will kick off in January and go through June. We’re going to ask faculty, staff and students with the right expertise to participate in these studies, and we'll spend the next six months looking at how growth has affected us and what we can do to address issues affecting students, faculty and staff as a result of that growth.

Eight priorities for our future

Near-horizon items we’ll tackle first:

  1. Fix the “foundation” – Fixing the foundation is about each of us taking an active role in embracing the Spirit of Aggieland – all the things that make Texas A&M special and unite us as an Aggie Family. It’s also about “right-sizing” the university in terms of faculty and staff sizing, student support services and the variety of facilities required to create success on our campuses. We’re serving the state of Texas very well, but it’s time for us to make sure we understand the impact of the growth we’ve seen to ensure we can continue to provide a great education for Texas for another 147 years.
  2. Define our research identity – Texas A&M is a research powerhouse with more than $1.153 billion in research expenditures in fiscal year 2022. I’m not suggesting we change our research priorities, because our researchers are doing amazing things every day. However, we should spend some time defining what we want Texas A&M to be known for. Are there opportunities to bundle research projects across our colleges/schools to optimize marketing opportunities? I’ve asked the VP of research to coordinate this project and anticipate close collaboration with the new VP and chief marketing and communications officer, who started today.
  3. Build our academic roadmap  Education is changing and so are the needs of our students. From extended education to burst learning, there are numerous opportunities to adjust our academics to align with “customer” demands. I’ve asked the Provost and EVP to lead this discussion with our deans and faculty to plan our academic offerings for the future. I don’t know what adjustments are required, but I am confident we will figure that out together.

Once these three are addressed, we can focus on the far-horizon items:

  1. Make Texas A&M a constant in the national conversation – Texas A&M is a great institution, but a great national institution requires a great national reputation. We should be leading the national conversation on important topics regularly. What are those topics, and how do we best highlight them?
  2. Nation’s #1 student experience – There is no reason Texas A&M should not have the nation's #1 student experience. All the ingredients are in place. Partnering with our Student Government Association, we need to prioritize listening, understand what other leaders in this space are doing and then invest in a structured way to confidently stake this claim.
  3. Graduate great citizens – We need to graduate great Aggies who are also great citizens. It could be exploring a citizenship and service academy concept that extends across all colleges or a required course on the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. The world needs an engaged citizenry, and who better to lead that charge than Aggies?
  4. Nation’s #1 veteran-serving university – Texas A&M has a rich military history, and our Veteran Resource and Support Center does incredible work to support our student-veterans. The average age of our student-veterans is increasing, and they are looking for more flexible content delivery as they juggle family life alongside education. Texas A&M can answer that call.
  5. Hug our best friends – Our affiliate associations and foundations are essential to our success. We must keep them closely connected to the priorities we set for the university and make them an integral part of the process that drives university actions and decisions.

I talked a lot about our near-future goals. Once we get our arms around that, it’s time to shoot for the stars and start thinking about Vision 2040. There is so much going on here that’s worth bragging about and so much more we can accomplish when we work together to make Texas A&M the place we know it can be – without you, there is no success at Texas A&M. It’s been an unbelievable privilege to serve as interim president for the last four months, and I look forward to walking the road ahead with you.

Thanks and Gig 'em!

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