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A&M President Gives State of the University Address

On Thursday, October 4, Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young delivered the annual State of the University Address. You can read the entire speech here, and view it at the bottom of this page or here.
Some portions of note:


As we speak today about our State of the University, we are at an important inflection point. Twenty years ago, in 1998, a group of faculty, staff, students and former students created Vision 2020.
What seemed like a far-off time now is upon us. Consider this – many of the students at this university today were not even born when Vision 2020 was launched! The strategic document set a bold vision for a greater faculty access; greater faculty focus; increased access for students; diversity and resource parity with the best public universities in the world. 

Since then,
  • More than 100 National Academy members have joined our ranks, as well as countless other professors;
  • Research expenditures are nearly $1 billion per year; and
  • We are on the cusp – just four-tenths of one percent away from our current 24.6 percent of the student population – of becoming a designated Hispanic Serving Institution, which we should achieve in two years.
There is more work to do.  We plan to issue a report card at the conclusion of Vision 2020 as we simultaneously set another vision, with specific metrics, this time ten years out to Vision 2030 in a continuing and passionate pursuit of excellence. Dr. Michael Benedik is co-chairing the Vision 2030 process with distinguished former student John Zachry.

Many of the key tenets from Vision 2020 fall into one of three strategic imperatives, which we introduced in 2016.
They are:
Transformational Learning – which is about providing intense, intellectually-transformative learning opportunities for our students … it is about helping our students develop the capacity to create their own analytical frameworks for discovery in order to problem solve in innovative and creative ways. This includes not only innovative classroom experiences, but undergraduate research, capstone projects, internships, innovation and entrepreneurship programs, activities and competitions and study abroad. In fact, we have more students studying or working internationally than any other public institution in the world. In order to continue to facilitate these opportunities, we must grow the number of faculty and ensure that our student numbers and our infrastructure align – more on that in a moment.
Discovery and Innovation – As we mentioned, we are nearing the $1 billion mark in research expenditures, which facilitates discovery and innovation across our great university. It is not only the amount of the grants, but also how we use that funding to optimize the discovery process, including offering research opportunities to graduate and undergraduate students alike.
And of course our reason for being is to have impact - impact on the state, the nation, the world. Our mission is to graduate leaders who selflessly serve and to support research and discovery that makes the human condition better.
It is unfair to call out only a few examples of progress each year. We would be here until next year if I called all of them out, but let me offer just a few examples:
The Aggies Invent concept extended its global reach significantly this year, thanks to the exuberance of Dr. Rodney Boehm, director of the Engineering Entrepreneurship Program. The “Invent for the Planet” contest involved 400 students, 14 universities across 10 countries and a 48-hour competition. The winner connected a needs statement submitted from Brazil – and the one that won was to create a light source with stored energy for children to be able to study in the evenings – with a team here and one in Myanmar. The winning Myanmar team and the winning A&M team combined to create this solution. The winning Myanmar team actually ventured to Aggieland in February – the first time any of the group’s members traveled outside of that country. What an incredible opportunity for those students who met face-to-face for the first time with those at our university with whom they teamed to solve a real-world problem. And what an opportunity for our students.
Another example is the partnership between Mays Business School and health and well-being company Humana to conduct a national health care analytics competition open to all accredited U.S. universities. This is about helping graduate students learn and innovate using data analytics to solve real-world business problems in the health care space. We look forward to more opportunities to collaborate with industry leaders as in this case with Humana CEO Bruce Broussard, himself a former student of Texas A&M.
One item that I wanted to mention today, by the way, is a milestone that we anticipate that we will hit in May of the coming year – May of 2019 – Texas A&M is expected to surpass 500,000 living former students across 165 different countries around the world – 500,000 individuals, – half a million – over half of whom graduated since 1997, by the way. The Aggie Network is global, our future is bright, and their contributions to the world are truly extraordinary.
At last year’s State of the University address, I announced a ten-year, $100 million dollar President’s Excellence Fund. The purpose of this fund is to help faculty find each other across this expansive university – and I mean that both physically and virtually – to collaborate on research and work together.
Triad, or T3 Grants, were launched as seed grants for faculty with great ideas. A total of 100 projects, funded at $30,000 each, were awarded to faculty teams. At least half of the funded teams included an assistant professor. A total of $7 million dollars was awarded in larger “X Grants.” Let’s take a look at a brief video about this process and some of the people involved in it to date.
And this is just the start. I was moderately worried about this video because I already had two professors tell me they are still working on those computers that were shown at the beginning of this video. But this is just the start. This is about Texas A&M faculty unleashing their ingenuity, their brilliance. And I frankly, personally, can’t wait to find out more about the projects themselves and see what results come from this.
As I mentioned, we are at nearly $1 billion in research funding. And we absolutely cannot take our eye off of the ball on this. This means making sure that we are supporting faculty research through grants, partnerships and commercialization and anything else we can do to enhance their capacity to build on their research. This year, in addition to the $10 million from the President’s Excellence Fund, the Research Development Fund will include millions more in funding. It is managed by Dr. Mark Barteau, vice president for research. This fund is a substantial investment by the university, TEES, and AgriLife in multidisciplinary, shared research facilities and equipment. It enhances our cutting-edge capabilities of Texas A&M researchers. In the last three years alone, more than $25 million has been invested – and today we are committing to renew that for the coming five years.
And – in order to serve our students’ needs – we must invest in current faculty, and we must hire more. Texas A&M is a place that fosters research and innovation, teaching and scholarship. We want to continue to recruit and support top-tier faculty, with a goal of adding 30 additional tenure track professors in the next 12 months alone, and 100 new faculty over the next five years. This program is focused on excellence, diversity and interdisciplinary collaboration among faculty. These hires will be new faculty, over and above those that may replace others who have moved out of the university. Support for hiring these faculty 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, of course, philanthropy. This will help alleviate workloads on existing faculty and expand our capacity to teach and serve our students, and enable even further growth of our research enterprise.