2018 Annual Meeting
February 15-16 | College Station, Texas
Record Crowd Attends 2018 Annual Meeting!
The first day of 2018 Annual Meeting of The Texas A&M University System Chancellor’s Century Council was held at The George, a beautiful new hotel near the Texas A&M University campus where, as the owners say, “rustic meets refined.” The setting exemplified how the Texas A&M community is building for the future while honoring its past and staying true to its roots.
It is a particularly proud time in the history of the Texas A&M System, as Chancellor John Sharp ’72 laid out in his opening remarks. Over the last seven months following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, as it has throughout its history, the Texas A&M System has answered the call of Texans in need and stepped up in ways that will benefit many generations to come. “The job description of an A&M System employee is simple,” said Chancellor Sharp. “Wake up each morning and get to work helping Texans.”
During and immediately after the storm, Texas Task Force 1, which is under the umbrella of the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, and its partners rescued nearly 13,000 people, evacuated more than 35,000 people, conducted about 4,300 shelter-in-place checks, and rescued or evacuated more than 2,000 pets and animals. The Texas A&M Forest Service extinguished about 100 structure fires and mobilized more than 1,400 people with their Lone Star State Incident Management Team. The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension helped collect and distribute supplies for 13 animal supply points, fielding nearly 5,000 phone calls from across the country from people who wanted to donate.
On September 7, 2017, Governor Greg Abbott appointed Chancellor Sharp to lead the Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas, which was charged with coordinating the recovery and rebuilding of public infrastructure damaged by Harvey. Chancellor Sharp explained that Governor Abbott knew that only the Texas A&M System had the infrastructure, the unwavering commitment to service, and the faculty with the necessary expertise to get the job done. The Commission has saved Texas taxpayers tens of millions of dollars by using A&M’s Extension agents and its government relations staff to communicate daily with local officials in the affected counties instead of hiring private consultants, as other state have in similar situations.
Over the last year, even with the addition of its hurricane recovery responsibilities, the System continued to makestrides throughout the state. One of the many examples Chancellor Sharp highlighted was the launch of EnHealth, the nation’s first comprehensive educational program to fully integrate engineering into all health-related disciplines. It will be led by Dr. Roderic Pettigrew, an internationally recognized leader in biomedical imaging and bioengineering, who Texas A&M was able to recruit with support from the Governor’s University Research Initiative. The first program under the umbrella of EnHealth will be EnMed, a program Texas A&M started in partnership with Houston Methodist Hospital where graduates earn a medical degree and an engineering degree so that they can design life-saving technologies.
Dr. Pettigrew is just one of many notable additions to the Texas A&M System family. Another is Prairie View A&M University’s new president, Dr. Ruth Simmons, who Time Magazine deemed the best college president in the country during her historic tenure as president of Brown University. Colonel Michael E. Fossum ’80, a former astronaut, was named chief operating officer of the Galveston Campus. Dr. Patrick J. Stover, a National Academy of Sciences member and a Cornell University professor of nutrition, will take over as Vice Chancellor and Dean of Agriculture at Texas A&M on March 1. Stephen Cambone, a former U.S. Department of Defense Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, was hired to lead a System-wide cyber security initiative. And of course, Jimbo Fisher, was hired to be the head coach for the Aggies.
Additionally, Chancellor Sharp pointed out that Texas A&M continues to grow in many ways. There are 70 projects, totaling $3 billion, underway across the System. Texas A&M’s presence on the UTIMCO board, which manages the Permanent University Fund, also expanded from two to three members, which coincided with a name change to The University of Texas/Texas A&M Investment Management Company. The past year also saw the opening of Texas A&M’s new McAllen Higher Education Center, which is expanding educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley. In addition to operating in 27 counties in South Texas, the System’s Healthy Texas initiative, which combines the reach of A&M’s Agrilife Extension Service with the expertise of its health science center, recently expanded into East Texas. System-wide, annual research expenditures are approaching $1 billion. Meanwhile, the System never loses focus on the students. For CCC members in attendance, Chancellor Sharp previewed the announcement of a new grant program that will keep middle class students, who might not be eligible for other need-based aid, at System institutions from having to drop out of school because of unforeseen hardships.
Maintaining the System’s presence at the forefront of academic and technological innovation is only possible because of the support of individuals and organizations who recognize the transformative power of higher education. Chancellor Sharp recognized individuals and organizations that have recently provided significant support to A&M System institutions, including Paul Engler and the Paul F. and Virginia J. Engler Foundation, who have agreed to donate at least $1 million a year for no less than 80 years to West Texas A&M University – the largest gift in the University’s 107-year history. Happy State Bank will also donate $2.5 million to WT for naming rights for the Academic and Research Building in the Agricultural Sciences Complex that opens this fall. Chancellor Sharp also thanked Doug Pitcock ’49, a longtime donor for whom the new Hotel & Convention Center across from Kyle Field on Texas A&M’s campus will be named. Of course, none of this would be possible without the support of the CCC members and CCC Co-Chairs Jack Matz ’71 and Nancy Matz ’73.
After Chancellor Sharp’s opening remarks, Texas A&M University System Board of Regents Chairman Charles Schwartz provided valuable perspective on a range of matters, including a preview of issues related to the upcoming legislative session and a thorough explanation of how Texas A&M University’s has one of the few self-sustaining, revenue-generating athletic programs in the country. Attendees also had the opportunity to hear brief presentations from the president of each of the System’s 10 regional universities. This included remarks by Dr. Simmons, who spoke about the importance of quality faculty, and the opportunity to hear from Dr. Kelly Quintanilla, the dynamic new president and former provost of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. These presentations were followed by a reception featuring some very special guests: the mascots of every Texas A&M System university!
The second day of the Annual Meeting provided plenty of star power, beginning with the System’s super deans. Vice Chancellor and Dean of Engineering M. Katherine Banks joined Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences and Dean of Medicine Carrie Byington and Dr. Patrick Stover, the incoming vice chancellor and dean for agriculture and life sciences, for a panel discussion about their initiatives and visions for the System. Mark Stone, the System’s chief information officer, also spoke about cybersecurity and other important topics. In another panel discussion, Texas A&M University leaders President Michael K. Young, Provost Carol A. Fierke and Colonel Fossum from the Galveston Campus provided an in-depth discussion about the flagship’s activities in College Station and elsewhere in Texas.
In one of the most anticipated events of the two-day meeting, Colby Carthel, the head football coach of the NCAA Division II national championship team from Texas A&M University-Commerce, joined Coach Jimbo Fisher on a panel moderated by Chancellor Sharp. Coach Carthel discussed his faith and the role it plays in his life on and off the field. He also spoke proudly of the hard work of his dedicated players.
Coach Fisher touched on many subjects, including the importance of giving back. He talked about how, along with his wife Candi, he created Kidz1stFund, a fund dedicated to fighting Fanconi anemia, a rare blood disorder that affects their son Ethan.Coach Fisher said he expects his players to give back, too. Chancellor Sharp presented Coach Carthel with a plaque honoring his 2017 championship. And without hiding any expectation, the Chancellor gave Coach Fisher a nearly identical plaque that also indicated a championship win – only, Coach Fisher’s plaque left a place for a date to be filled in later.
Reveille was there, too.
After lunch, CCC members boarded buses for the RELLIS Campus to hear from U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry speak. The RELLIS Campus is among the biggest and boldest initiatives currently underway in the System. Located on what was formerly the Bryan Air Base, the System is building a state-of-the-art research and academic campus that will establish a new model for higher education in the 21st century. Students will be able to earn associate’s degrees from Blinn College and then complete their bachelor’s degrees in high-demand fields from the System’s regional universities without ever having to leave RELLIS. While there, they will be surrounded by cutting-edge research activities being conducted by the System’s agencies, private companies, and others.
Secretary Perry toured the Center of Infrastructure Renewal, which is located on the RELLIS Campus and will house researchers who are developing advanced and sustainable materials and structural systems that will reduce cost and extend infrastructure life, safety, resiliency and durability. Afterward, Secretary Perry addressed CCC members, speaking about the importance of improving America’s roadways and the weighty responsibilities of running the U.S. Department of Energy. “Energy fuels imagination, empowers our efforts in science and innovation and drives our efforts to create and build and to innovate,” he said. “Fueled by America’s energy the innovations coming out of our universities and national labs have an extraordinary impact and they are touching people’s lives in a profound way.”
The two-day Annual Meeting culminated with a banquet. Secretary Perry provided the keynote speech, and he and Chancellor Sharp regaled the audience with stories of their student days in College Station. The event concluded with the induction of ten outstanding faculty members into the 2018 Chancellor’s Academy of Teacher Educators, which served as a reminder of the important and tireless work of the faculty on A&M System campuses.
As it does every year, the Annual Meeting provided an opportunity for CCC members to get an inside look into the A&M System and hear about the latest big ideas coming out of System institutions directly from the source. And perhaps more importantly, it offered System leaders the opportunity to thank the CCC for its continued generosity and hard work on behalf of all of the System’s universities and state agencies.