Elsa Murano has been named the sole finalist for the vacant presidency at Texas A&M University.
The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents named Murano at their meeting Friday.
Murano, 48, currently holds the positions of Vice Chancellor and Dean for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Director, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station.
She was appointed to that post in January 2005.
According to her online biography, Dr. Murano was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2001 to undersecretary for food safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In that position, Murano served as the highest ranking food safety official in the U.S. government with the responsibility of overseeing the policies and programs of the Food Safety Inspection Service.
Prior to her appointment, Murano was an A&M professor since 1995.
With the announcement, Murano would become the first minority and the first female to ever be president of Texas A&M University.
Under state law, regents must wait 21 days before officially offering her the job.
In a prepared release, Bill Jones, Board of Regents chairman, said a nationwide search for the next A&M president turned up a finalist in the university's backyard.
“Dr. Murano understands all aspects of the presidency of this distinguished university,” Jones said. “She is a unifying force who can bring faculty, students and former students together behind the goals of academic excellence and research superiority. She has the trust and confidence of the Board of Regents.”
The board's vote was not unanimous. Regent Gene Stallings was the lone dissenter, saying a better candidate was available.
Stallings did not elaborate on the other candidate, but did say he would support the new A&M president regardless.
The following is the press release from the Texas A&M System regarding Elsa Murano being named the finalist for the Texas A&M presidency:
College Station – The Texas A&M University System (TAMUS) Board of Regents today voted to select Dr. Elsa Murano as the sole finalist for the position of president of Texas A&M University (TAMU). A noted researcher and academician, a former federal appointee and the current vice chancellor of agriculture of the A&M System, as well as the dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M, Dr. Murano will be eligible to become president in 21 days.
“We conducted a nationwide search to find the best candidate for the presidency of Texas A&M University, and we discovered that individual in our own backyard,” said the chairman of the Board of Regents, Bill Jones. “Dr. Murano is a distinguished researcher and academic leader, a successful manager who has transformed agriculture across the A&M System and a visionary with the credentials to oversee a $1.2 billion annual enterprise like Texas A&M University.
“Dr. Murano understands all aspects of the presidency of this distinguished university,” said Jones. “She is a unifying force who can bring faculty, students and former students together behind the goals of academic excellence and research superiority. She has the trust and confidence of the Board of Regents.”
Dr. Murano, 48, was the first Hispanic-American and first woman to be named the vice chancellor and dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M when hired in 2005. Prior to that, she was the first Hispanic-American to serve as undersecretary for food safety at the United States Department of Agriculture, a position she held from 2001 to 2004.
Dr. Murano’s academic career spans more than a quarter century. Since 2001, she has held the position of professor in the Texas A&M Department of Animal Science. From 1995 to 2001, she served as an associate professor in the Department of Animal Science, and as both the director and associate director of the Center for Food Safety at Texas A&M. From 1990 to 1995, she was an assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Preventive Medicine at Iowa State University. From 1984 to 1990 Dr. Murano served as a researcher and teaching assistant at Virginia Tech University. Prior to that she was a research laboratory technician at Florida International University from 1981 to 1983.
Dr. Murano received a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from Florida International University. She earned her master’s degree in anaerobic microbiology and Ph.D in food science and technology from Virginia Tech University.
“Dr. Murano is an excellent choice to lead Texas A&M University,” said Dr. Michael D. McKinney, chancellor of the A&M System. “She is a distinguished scholar, a highly regarded researcher who has been widely published, an expert in the field of agriculture and food safety, and a proven manager who has overseen 14 academic departments and the education of more than 6,000 students as the dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University.
“With her commitment to academic and research excellence, and her record of service both as a presidential appointee and a distinguished academician, I am thrilled that Dr. Murano is poised to lead Texas A&M University to greater heights,” Dr. McKinney said.
Dr. Murano has proven herself an adept leader of large organizations, overseeing 10,000 employees and an annual budget of $905 million as the highest-ranking food safety official in the U.S. government. In her current capacity, she has administered more than 30 academic programs impacting 5,000 undergraduate and 1,200 graduate and Ph.D. students. As the vice chancellor and dean of agriculture, and former director of the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, she has led a transformation of agricultural programs within the System to the benefit of students, peers and the vibrant agricultural community represented in 254 counties across Texas.
Under Dr. Murano’s guidance, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has seen an increase in undergraduate enrollment over the past two years, following a sharp decline prior to her arrival as dean. She has been extremely successful in working with Congress and federal agencies to secure additional funding for academics, research and extension programs across the A&M System, as well as with the Texas Legislature to support research initiatives by the Experiment Station’s 425 scientists and 13 research centers located across the state.
Dr. Murano is a first generation Hispanic-American, fleeing Cuba with her family at a young age in the early 1960s. Born in Havana, she and her family lived in several Latin American countries before moving to Miami, where she spent her formative years .
In 2005, Dr. Murano was inducted to the Alumni Hall of Fame of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund. In 2002, she was recognized as one of the “100 Most Influential Hispanics” by Hispanic Business Magazine. The recipient of multiple academic fellowships and the Sadie Hatfield Endowed Professorship at Texas A&M from 2000 to 2001, Dr. Murano’s work has been extensively published. She has received numerous research grants totaling more than $8.7 million, and has served in a half dozen academic service and professional societies, such as the American Society for Microbiology, the American Society for Testing Materials, the Association of Meat Science, the Institute of Food Technologists, the International Association of Milk, Food and Environmental Sanitarians, and the Poultry Science Association.
“The breadth of her experience, the extent of her academic service and the success of the large colleges and agencies she has led made Dr. Murano a compelling choice for the board,” said vice chair John White. “Dr. Murano is an academic at heart, a leader who values input and someone who understands Aggie traditions and the university culture. I am excited that she will help write a new chapter of excellence for the state of Texas.”
Dr. Murano is married to Dr. Peter S. Murano and they reside in Bryan, Texas.