President Michael K. Young delivers the State of the University address. (Mark Guerrero/Texas A&M Marketing & Communications)
By Sam Peshek, Texas A&M University Division of Marketing & Communications
- President Michael K. Young introduced four key initiatives and goals for the upcoming year: The President’s Excellence Fund, the Student Success Initiative, research support and faculty hiring
- Young provided updates on the Lead by Example campaign and the Vision 2020 initiative
- Texas A&M is expected to be a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) in two years
- A full transcript of Young’s remarks is available to download
Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young on Thursday announced approaching milestones, provided updates on a series of major campus-wide initiatives and said that after 142 years, the state of the university “remains strong.”
Almost 400 faculty and staff members gathered at the Memorial Student Center to hear Young’s address ‑ his third since becoming president in 2015 – as he addressed major events, challenges and opportunities from the past year.
Young kicked off the address by celebrating the university’s strengths that were on display during the past year. Strengths included a commitment to academic excellence, the university community’s dedication to its core values, fiscal accountability to the state, maintaining affordability and a high return on investment for students.
“At our core, we strive to create and support a diverse, inclusive and equitable environment where differences are valued, indeed encouraged, where everyone has the optimal learning environment, ensuring that our students are as successful when they leave this university as they have been for the last century and a half,” Young said. “The sheer variety of experiences of our faculty, staff and students at Texas A&M has been the source of creative ideas in all disciplines, validating our roles as leaders in the nation.”
Four initiatives for the upcoming year
Looking ahead at the upcoming year, Young laid out four strategic initiatives and presented expectations and progress updates on each.
“Overall, we know that our students are doing well, but this is about going from good to great,” Young said. “I want us to be laser-focused on understanding the needs of our students today. I want to know what more we can do to ensure their success.”
- President’s Excellence Fund: “The purpose of this fund is to help faculty find each other across this expansive university,” Young said. “And I mean that both physically and virtually –to collaborate on research and work together.”
- Student Success Initiative:
- Young announced goals to raise the current first year retention rate of 92.2 percent to 95 percent, increase four-year graduation rates to 65 percent and increase six-year graduation rates to 85 percent.
- Young shared construction updates on the Zachry Engineering Education Complex, the 21st Century Classroom and many more.
- Provost Carol A. Fierke has assigned a task force of more than 50 people from across the university to take a deep dive into student success needs and present the first in a series of action plans on Nov. 5 with more recommendations expected in the spring.
- Research support: In addition to President’s Excellence Fund, the Research Development Fund will include millions more in funding. In the last three years alone, more than $25 million has been invested – a commitment that is being renewed for the next five years.
- Faculty hiring: Young reaffirmed his commitment to recruiting top-tier faculty and set a goal of adding 30 additional tenure track professors in the next 12 months and 100 new faculty over the next five years. Support will come from a variety of sources, including central administration funds, the Chancellor’s Research Initiative, the Governor’s University Research Initiative, funds from the respective colleges and philanthropy.
Progress on major initiatives
Young provided his first major update on the progress of the $100 million, 10-year President’s Excellence Fund since its introduction at last year’s State of the University address. At the heart of the fund are T3 grants, an interdisciplinary seed-grant program for interdisciplinary teams to develop research partnerships, and X-Grants, which aim to unlock creative solutions to the most important challenges facing global society.
Last year, a total of 100 T3 projects, at $30,000 each, were awarded to faculty teams for a total of $3 million. At least half of the funded teams included an assistant professor. An additional $7 million dollars was awarded in larger “X Grants.” Young encouraged faculty to pursue funding through these programs.
Young noted that the Lead by Example campaign, which launched in November 2015, is now raised $3.3 billion toward its $4 billion goal.
He acknowledged another important milestone reached when discussing the Vision 2020 campaign, which is nearing its conclusion after launching in 1998. Since its launch, 100 national academy members have joined the university and research expenditures have reached nearly $1 billion per year.
With Texas A&M’s Hispanic student population reaching 24.6 percent, the university is now .4 percent away from being designated a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). Young said the university is expected to achieve HSI designation in the next two years.
Young added that in May of 2019, Texas A&M is expected to surpass 500,000 living former students across 165 countries around the globe, over half of whom graduated after 1997.
“The Aggie Network is global, and our future is bright,” Young said.