President Michael K. Young – 2019 State of the University Address

President Michael K. Young – 2019 State of the University Address

October 13, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


_ Colors, turn. Present colors. Flags order. Arms Post Colors And salute Order arms colors return right face
port arms forward march Some may boast of prowess bold Of the schools they think so grand But there’s a spirit can ne’er be told It’s the Spirit of Aggieland We are the Aggies, the Aggies are we True to each other as Aggies can be We’ve got to fight, boys, we’ve got to fight We’ve got to fight for maroon and white After they’ve boosted all the rest Then they will come and join the best For we are the Aggies, the Aggies are we we are from Texas A.M.C. [Applause] Well howdy! And good-morning. it’s an honor
and a privilege to be standing here today as we shed light on the incredible
things our university has done and things that it is looking to do. It is
also my pleasure to introduce a tremendous leader that cares deeply
about Texas A&M University. President Michael K. Young. Since 2015 Michael Young
has served as the 25th president of Texas A&M University. Before coming to
our campus he served with distinction as the president of the University of Utah
and the University of Washington where he elevated both public universities
nationally and internationally enhancing their commitment to innovation
and increasing their federal research funding. An esteemed leader and scholar, he
is a graduate of Harvard Law School with a broad array of intellectual interests
and professional accomplishments. Among his experiences he served as the law
clerk to the late Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, worked
extensively on treaties related to German unification and helped create the
original North American Free Trade Agreement. At Texas A&M he has envisioned
and implemented a strategy to help the university continue to rise among the
ranks of major public universities earning renown for innovative programs
such as our president’s excellence fund and our Student Success Initiative as
well as supporting our lead by example campaign which has become the most
successful fundraising campaign in the history of our University. Please join me
in welcoming the 25th president of Texas A&M, Michael Young.
[Applause] Howdy! Thank You Mikey, for that very kind
introduction. In his first months as president of our
student body, Mikey Jaillet has served this University in this role
representing not only the largest student body in our history but also the
largest student body of any university in the United States, period. Thank You
Mikey and all your fellow leaders for your continued service on our behalf and
on behalf of the students who are the heart of why we are here at this
University. I’d also like to thank the Corps of Cadets today they are the
keepers of the spirit, for joining us to post the colors as well as thank the
Century Singers for their excellent performance today. Thank you all. I’d like
to begin today’s address by telling you two stories, both of which happened on
the same day last month. These stories are important not just because they
capture the range and I do mean range of our research but because they’re about
you. They tell us the extraordinary work you’re engaged in each and every
day. And they highlight the remarkable impact and influence our projects have
on regions around the world and even beyond. Here’s the first story. A few
weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel to San Diego to tour on a ship
called the JOIDES Resolution. It’s home to our largest federal research
program, recently extended by 350 million dollars over the next five years. We’re
very proud that Texas A&M serves as the service operator of that ship meaning
that we provide operations, logistics, training and management for multiple
expeditions every year. We also coordinate collaborations among
researchers from 26 different countries, all for the single purpose of advancing
scientific discovery. This was the first time the ship was docked in the United
States in more than a decade and I was honored to be invited by Dr. Brad
Clement, who was director of services there, Science Services and Dean
Debbie Thomas, Dean of our College of Geosciences, who actually got her start
as a graduate researcher on the ship. And Dean Thomas will again join an
expedition in January of this coming year. The ship does extraordinary work. By
drilling through sediment and rock in the deepest depths of the ocean, it’s
helped scientists explore the history of the earth, gathering climate information
and other historical data. That day in San Diego I had the privilege of sitting
in on a meeting of researchers just before they were to set sail on a
two-month expedition. The excitement in the room was palpable and I was so proud
of the work that we do. I’m grateful for the support from the National Science
Foundation which entrusts us to carry out our work with excellence and
integrity in scientific advancement. Now the story of the JOIDES Resolution
would be impressive on its own. But a second experience really
brought home for me the breadth and depth of our University’s research and
influence. Later that same day literally that same day I was approached by a
person who asked me if I was president of Texas A&M. It turned out to be Dr. Pooneh Bagher, who’s a professor at our College of Medicine in the department of
medical physiology. Dr. Bagher was in San Diego for another research project. This
one involved looking at the long-term physiological effects of microgravity on
our cardiovascular systems in the International Space Station.
Dr. Bagher’s research is of importance to understanding the impact of science on
our bodies for astronauts and is but one example of the great work that we do in
support as a space-grant University. So at the end of that day I realized based
on those two examples from miles below the earth’s surface to 250 miles above
the earth from the deepest depths of the ocean to the farthest reaches of space
our university mission is driving education, research, and discovery that
selflessly serves humanity. An amazing experience so thank you
[Applause] There she is. Dr. Bagher, would you stand up but just
let us okay and Dean I don’t know if Dean Thomas is here as well. Thank you for
allowing me to take some time to tell these two stories. I know that these
stories are but two of the thousands that demonstrate the incredible work you do
here and around the world. What you do matters. It is of consequence. It makes a
difference. It changes the world. Because of your efforts and contributions, the
state of the university is strong and vibrant. That’s not to say that
we’re without challenges. We as Aggies or conditioned to face and overcome
challenges, to strive for excellence every day, to celebrate success and to
plan for more. So there are many things that I could cover today but I’d like to
focus on three major ideas. One is why now matters. Two, who we are, and three
what we will do next. So let me start with why now matters. It’s always a great
day to be an Aggie but today October 10th 2019 that’s
especially true. Consider the convergence of some very exciting news taking place
at this very time in the history of our University. We’re at the culmination of
vision 2020, a bold well-crafted strategic plan created in 1998 by
visionary prescient Aggies. The aspiration of these leaders set a path
that led to our designation as a Tier one research university as well as a member
of the Association of American Universities. Many of those Aggies
remain actively involved today we’re very very grateful for their foresight.
We’re also in the final push of our four billion dollar lead by example
fundraising campaign, as Mikey mentioned the largest of its kind to date in our
history and in the history of Texas and the fourth largest ever for a public
university in the United States. This campaign is scheduled to end at the end
of 2020 and I’m proud to announce that we’re now at 3.6 billion dollars in that
campaign. These vital funds help our students
faculty and staff have the resources they need to continue the pursuit of
excellence as a world-class University. We’re grateful to our former students
who have gone on to great success and then choose to give back to help future
Aggies and our great University. I wish to thank our university affiliate
organizations and their dedicated teams who galvanize Aggies in support of the
University, improving the quality of education and building lifelong
friendships. I wonder if they could stand as I mention them. The Association of Former
Students led by president and CEO Porter Garner the 3rd, class of 1979, the
Texas A&M Foundation led by president Tyson Voelkel class of 1996, the 12th man
Foundation president and CEO Travis Dabney also of the class of 96 a good
class, and the George and Barbara Bush Foundation led by President David Jones.
Thank you, thank you very much for what you do as leaders of this university. and thank you to all the leaders of the
other support organizations and especially the half million strong Aggie
network for your support of our University. In addition to the generous
support from our Aggie family, this year we received the most research funding in
our history. We’re now a top 20 University across public and private
universities alike. Because of the growth in this state and tremendous demand for
what we as a university have to offer, we’ve grown by the equivalent of three
universities in the last 15 years. We are now the largest university in the
nation in terms of enrollment. While we experienced growth, we have also
continued to enhance the quality of the education. I think this is important to
point out. Growth with quality, not at the expense of quality. And here are some
examples of our commitment to quality. Among Texas public universities, Texas
A&M is tied for first in time to degree and has the highest six-year graduation
rate, as well as the greatest lifetime return on students’ investment in their
education. Consequently our rankings remain strong.
Last month we crossed into the top 20 public university rankings in
the Wall Street Journal Times Higher Education rankings, and Money Magazine
ranked us again as the number one best value university in Texas number 18 in
the nation. In other great news Texas A&M received the largest ever investment by
the Texas legislature of 91 million additional dollars for our students over
the biennium of this year next. We’re extremely grateful to the 86’th Texas state
legislature, Governor Greg Abbott, the advocacy of the Aggie network, the
leadership of our Board of Regents, and our Chancellor John Sharp, and our
faculty and staff and students who made such a compelling case. We’ll discuss the
planned impact of the investment in a few minutes. Texas A&M also earned the
higher education excellence in diversity or “HEED” award this year
and is being recognized as a diversity champion by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. The HEED award is a National Honor recognized in U.S. colleges and
universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and
inclusion. Congratulations to Dr. Robin Means Coleman and her team as well as
faculty staff and students who made this award possible. Thank you. Of course we have much more
work to do. We need to make our students feel welcomed respected and included as
well as everybody who steps on this campus our faculty and our staff.
This is sadly not always the case. Every person in this room and indeed the
entire university shares this responsibility.
This award is validation that we can celebrate the work that’s underway as we
continue to pursue our core values in our regard for each other. Our six core
values of respect, excellence, leadership, loyalty, integrity, and selfless service
differentiate us from other universities. They represent the core of who we are as
well as our aspirations. Now let’s take a moment to talk about who we are today. I
like to describe our campus as a living laboratory where tradition scholarship
and cutting-edge innovation often contribute to the success of the other.
Investment in buildings and more importantly the people within those
buildings is an important indication of the type of place we want Texas A&M to
be, a great great place to learn and discover. We have a responsibility to
equip our faculty, staff, and our students with the best resources we can. Consider
the building alone has taken place during this time. The Zachry Engineering
Complex been open for just over a year. In that time nearly 14,000 students per
semester have taken at least one class in there, and the room huddle spaces
were reserved more than a hundred thousand times for students to work
together. The art and design of the building is conducive to the way students study
and create. From open areas like what you see in this slide here to
transformational learning opportunities such as with the SuSu and Mark A. Fischer Engineering Design Center named for beloved Aggies who contribute their time
and treasure to bettering this campus they love so much. Here students have
access to state-of-the-art prototyping tools, equipment, and support staff to
unlock their creativity. Dean Kathy Banks and her team
along with the individuals families and corporations that made this space
possible are to be commended. Thank you. In 2017 we broke ground on a new 95,000
square foot Student Services Building. This is near completion.
This does deserve a Whoop. This will be a central convenient place on campus for
our students to access a host of services including counseling, disability
services, housing options, etc. It will also offer conference rooms and common
areas where students can relax and work together in a quiet environment. The 21st
Century Classroom building near Simpson drill field is also under
construction. A hundred and eighteen thousand square feet, this building will
add more than 2,200 new classroom seats with flexibility in arranging studios
for enhanced learning, including a large 600 seat in the round arena. The
co-located offices of the Center for Teaching Excellence, Instructional Media
Services, and Academic Innovations will collaborate to enhance pedagogical
innovation in learning. The music Activities Center opened at the end of
August. This building is a reflection of how important music is to Texas A&M,
both as part of the educational process and as a medium that creates lifelong
friendships. This wonderful part of campus comfortably houses all 349
members of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band, as well as rehearsal rooms, offices,
student lounges, concert spaces, and an impressive hundred-yard artificial turf
field for practice. I’m proud to say I actually have a locker over there that
contains my clarinet so I can practice there as well. Other projects of note
include the brand-new Instructional Laboratory and Innovation Learning
Building, the Medical Research and Education Building which incidentally
more than doubled the research space for the Health Sciences, two new AgriLife
buildings for research including the new Plant Pathology and Microbiology
Building and two new planned satellite recreation centers. Texas A&M at
Galveston opened a beautiful Main Academic
Complex and an Aggie special event center which provides critical meeting
space for our students faculty and staff to foster collaboration and innovation
and engage with the surrounding community. The Higher Education Center at
McAllen is already serving more than 500 students to better meet the needs of
that area, among the fastest growing regions in the nation. And in January the
College of Dentistry officially dedicates its new building in Dallas. In
addition to teaching students the College serves more than a hundred
thousand patient visits per year through its clinical programs. This building will
allow us to increase that number by an additional fifteen to twenty thousand
patient visits for the underserved community. These new buildings go
hand-in-hand with the investment of more than a hundred million dollars annually
in maintenance for existing facilities. In this short period of time we will
have invested an additional billion and a half dollars in buildings completed
and underway, expanding our infrastructure by more than a million
and a half square feet. The majority of our construction is dedicated to our
core academic enterprise as you’ve seen from all of these. I do want to mention
however the beautiful new E.B. Cushing track and field as well as the softball
Davis Diamond – two also very beautiful facilities. Plans are in place now for
building out a beautiful green space as well, and an amphitheater in what is now
referred to as Aggie Park to enhance the beauty of our campus as well as provide
space for a broad range of student activities including concerts, lectures,
as well as Aggie ring day. I talk about the building infrastructure because it’s
an important indication of our investment in our most critical resource- our people- people who are breaking new ground in learning and discovery on all
of our campuses and indeed around the world. I referenced our
growth earlier. It’s critical that we provide all the infrastructure and
critical resources for everyone on our campuses to have optimal learning and
research opportunities. This investment is necessary to ensure that we serve
that growth and continue to provide the highest quality
educational environment possible. All of this construction allows us to grow our
capacity to achieve at the highest levels across our three missions: student
learning, research and discovery, and impact. Our impact extends not
only through the students we teach and the discoveries we make but also through
the service we render. And let me give you an example about what is going on in
these buildings and all of the other buildings around our campus. I’d like to
talk about some wonderful traction that we’re getting with the $100,000,000 President’s
Excellence Fund. Thank you to all the faculty members across all of our
colleges and schools who have embraced these grants with enthusiasm.
Through round two of the grants every single college and school has been
represented. 94% of all assistant professors, over half of all of our
associate professors and almost 40% of our full professors have joined to date.
I’d also like to thank the staff members who support the faculty through administering
a transparent, technologically savvy, and streamlined process. Round 1 of X grants
has already netted an additional half million dollars in extramural grants.
Round one of the T3 grants which total 3 million dollars has resulted in an
additional external funding of more than 4.6 million dollars.
We’re tracking progress and we continue to report about the amazing research
collaborations that take place in in year one’s grants; each builds on the
next. The next rounds for awards include three million dollars in December of 2019
for T3 grants and seven million dollars in May of 2020 for round 3 of X grants. Now
we talked about why we’re here and who we are I want to take some time to focus
on where we’re going. Thanks to the advocacy of the Texas A&M University
System Board of Regents, System Chancellor, the Aggie Network and our
faculty staff and students, the case was made to the legislature that growth in
enrollment without growth in funding was simply not sustainable.
I want to stress six priorities for additional investment over the coming
few years. One, faculty investment. Two, Student Success. Three, graduate education.
Four, emerging areas of critical research. Five, academic innovation. And six, staff
advancement. Let me discuss briefly each in turn. Priority one is investment in
faculty. In order for our students to learn and thrive and for us to remain on
the cutting edge of research we must hire and retain the best faculty
possible. We’ll invest approximately ten million dollars per year in this
priority. We’ll hire an additional hundred faculty or more allowing us to
increase support in critical areas of instructional need and in areas of
significant research potential, as well as increase faculty diversity. We will
also address compensation imbalances among faculty, We will also continue to
leverage great programs that have already been established such as the
Chancellor’s Research Initiative, the Governor’s University Research Initiative, and matching fund opportunities. Now, building on the
success of the President’s Excellence Fund, I’m also pleased to
announce an additional set of grants designed to further enhance our research.
These grants will be called Clinical Research Partnership Grants and will
Center on researchers and clinical partners will total a million dollars a
year for the remaining eight years of the President’s Excellence Fund. This
additional eight million dollars in funding will be on top of the hundred
million dollars already committed to date for the excellence fund. Designed to
stimulate new collaborations between Texas A&M researchers and clinical
partners request for a clinical research partnership grant may be made for up to
$200,000 for a two-year period. These proposals will undergo merit-based
review. But the aim is to see connections between our researchers and our delivery
partners leading to growth impact and external support of our work
in this field. More information is forthcoming through the Vice President for
Research in the weeks to come. Our next priority is the Student Success
Initiative. We’ll invest five million dollars per year to support this
critical program. Areas of focus include retention, graduation rates, time to
graduation, learning outcomes, placement. Students are at the heart of our
enterprise. We must do everything possible to ensure their success. For
example we’re committed to moving our first year student retention rate from
good to great. Improving retention from 92 to 95 percent
would mean that approximately 325 more students per year would stay in school
instead of dropping out or transferring. Each year that could help about 900 more
Aggie students graduate in four years helping them save time and incur less
debt and launch their careers. As our mission states we want to prepare
students to assume roles in leadership, responsibility, and service to society. In
order to do so we’ll maintain a relentless commitment to helping
students succeed in learning graduating and serving. The entire university is
committed to the Student Success Initiative. In Galveston, for example,
student retention has already improved by eight percent in just one year. We
know we can do it and we must. Another example of our Student Success
Initiative is our focus on first-generation students. Nearly a
quarter of our students are first-generation. They’re first in their
families to attend college. Building student success means celebrating and
supporting these individuals in every aspect of their academic endeavors
including experiences outside the classroom. I respect so much these
students who are blazing the trail for their families and themselves. In fact
about 1/3 of my leadership team actually were first-generation students. I wonder
if I could take a moment and just ask all of you who are or were
first-generation students would you stand up please? That gives you a small indication of the
importance of this and the impact it is likely to have. All of you are mentors on a
daily basis in your words and deeds and serve as an example to all of our
students who are here. Thank you. Our next priority is graduate education. We’ll
invest 5 million dollars per year. We must meet the overarching financial
needs of our graduate students in order to recruit and retain the best including
commitments of multi-year support. We must provide more interdisciplinary
opportunities for our graduate students and we must provide enriched research
support as well as enhanced career development services. And we will do that.
We also know that in order to remain competitive and continue our pursuit of
excellence we must invest in emerging areas of critical research, our fourth
priority, where we’ll invest another five million dollars per year, Examples
include data science, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity among others.
We want to bring to bear the full spectrum of research in these areas, much
of which is already taking place on our campus.
Another example is increased support for technology commercialization, which will
enhance our capacity to ensure that the cutting-edge work that we do on our
campuses gets out into the lives of real people around the globe. Academic
innovation is our fifth priority. This is about leveraging new ways to enhance how
students learn. It’s about unlocking creativity across
the university to enhance pedagogical efforts. We have so many brilliant
teachers on this campus and all of our campuses and I want to turn loose if you
will or unleash that creativity in the minds of our great faculty to explore new
ways of teaching. To that end I’m also announcing another million dollar per
year investment in a second series of grants. These will be called Presidential
Transformational Teaching Grants. This new seed grant program is designed
to offer new funds to further Texas A&M University’s commitment to advancing
transformational learning. These grants will be funded annually at a million
dollars per year for the remaining eight years of the President’s Excellence Fund
for a total of eight million additional dollars. We’ll fund 30 projects, each
lasting two years. In the days to come the Dean of faculties will communicate
about opportunities to apply for these exciting grants and I hope you will take
it seriously and you will engage. In addition we’ll invest another million and
a half dollars in the priority of academic innovation in areas that range
from instructional design for high quality course production by a
technology to enhance online learning experiences for our students as well as
enhanced data analytics and lifetime learning. I think this cartoon sums it
best! It’s about transformation. Transformational teaching and learning
and evolving. This is what we’re about. And this is what we will enhance and
develop as well. Our sixth priority is staff advancement. As we all know our
staff are absolutely critical to everything we do and everything we try
to accomplish. We want Texas A&M to not only be a great place for
students but also for staff and faculty who work, learn, and live here. In the
months to come you’ll hear more about this and have the opportunity to provide
input as we foster ways for employees to connect inside and outside of work and
to partner with our community to attract and retain talent. One program under
development is called Flourish and that is just what we want. This will align
with other programs that span wellness and support. This also includes better
onboarding of new faculty and staff. It’s a positive strength-based approach to
employee engagement and well-being and it begins from the date of hire until
retirement. In the end this is about supporting all employees to achieve
their greatest career potential and have the highest level of health and
well being possible. Look for more about the Flourish program in the weeks
and months to come. So these are our six priorities: Faculty investment, Student
Success Initiative, graduate education, emerging areas of critical research,
academic innovation, and staff advancement. We look forward to receiving
your input as we implement all these programs. But we cannot and should not
look only toward short-term priorities. In order to help our university thrive
the Provost is chairing a process to create a strategic plan for our
university for the next 10 years. We’re asking for your input at a series of
fora, some of which have already been announced, each with a unique topic
related to the plan including increasing our global impact, positioning Texas A&M
University as the best place to work live and learn, growing and supporting
faculty staff and research, and enhancing and reinventing education for
students. This plan will take us through 2030. In 2026 midway through, amazingly,
Texas A&M University will turn 150 years old. We want to reach that milestone
anniversary being the best that we can be. Please make every effort to attend
one of these sessions to contribute your voice to what we need done here at
this university. And all that we discuss today with our strategic pillars aligns
with our pillars: Transformational Education, Discovery and Innovation, and
Impact on the state, nation, and world. As we’ve progressed and grown, it’s become
increasingly clear that our ability to achieve our goal is intimately and
directly related to our capacity to come together as a community. So today we add
a fourth important strategic pillar- that of community. Embedded within our local
communities, forged by Texas and embracing our global presence, Texas A&M
University is committed to enriching the learning and working environment for all
visitors, students, faculty, and staff. Be it faculty working with students,
researchers in the field, service projects in Bryan/College Station or
around the globe, the Aggie citizen is a citizen of substance, forever
demonstrating a willingness to help humanity with an abiding
commitment to the success of each other. A soaring example of our community
coming together occurred within the last year with the passing of President Bush.
On December 6th of 2018 we laid to rest President George Herbert Walker Bush,
41st president of the United States in a grove behind his Presidential Library
in our campus next to his beloved wife former first lady Barbara Bush and their
daughter Robin. The world watched that day as Union Pacific train 4141 brought
him for the last time to Texas A&M University along with his family members
to College Station. Our University indeed the entire Bryan/College Station
community rallied in preparing for this momentous occasion. But the world got a
glimpse into why President Bush loved Texas A&M so much. As they removed his
coffin from the train, the band played predictably “Hail to the Chief.” but then
to the surprise of those watching around the world and the delight of Aggies
everywhere the band played The Aggie War Hymn, an unexpected funeral march. The
crowd that was gathered on the other side of the train briefly erupted in
Whoops. President Bush had personally selected that song to play at that
moment. And I truly believe his choice of playing The Aggie War Hymn was one last
message to us. It was an “I love you” for who you are, what you do, and what you
stand for. One last I love you to Aggies everywhere. So while I recover let’s take
a moment to watch a video in his own words and a few photos from that day. My theory is you wherever you go you can
get a good education if you work at it. And I love my Yale education but my
library’s here because of the values of Texas A&M University.
I love the Aggie spirit I like the academic excellence of the place and I
love every single day that I spend on the A&M campus.
[Music] Service to a country is a calling and
that there’s much more to it than elections and soundbites
that in a far broader sense it means helping others and sacrificing and
contributing to causes bigger than yourself. You got a terrific head start
in life by attending this fantastic University. You owe it to yourselves and
those who have helped you along the way to get out there give everything this
life that you got. Once an Aggie always an Aggie. So get out there and make us
all proud. [Music] [Music]
I’m proud to be part of this school proud to be an Aggie. [Music] We love President and Mrs. Bush. We’ll honor
their memory on this campus and beyond through the Presidential Library, to the
students who graduate from the Bush School of Government and Public Service,
and in always striving to live the core values that this university shares with
his enduring legacy of service. Today as you return to your classrooms, offices,
research labs I want to thank you for the work that you do each and every day.
Thanks to your efforts and your contributions, the state of the
university is strong and vibrant. As we move into 2020 with vigor and a firm
commitment to the success of this institution and to each other let us be
grateful for what we’ve been given, optimistic about the future and
enthusiastic about serving our university, our community, our state,
nation, and world. Thank you for listening, and thank you for dedicating yourselves
each and every day to making Texas A&M a great great University. Thank you.
[Applause]