Statements on Murano's Selection as Finalist

The following are statements from members of the Texas A&M family following the announcement of Elsa Murano as the lone finalist for the Texas A&M presidency:

- Secretary of Defense and former Texas A&M President Robert Gates:

“I congratulate Dr. Elsa Murano on her selection as sole finalist for the presidency of Texas A&M University. I am proud to have hired Dr. Murano as Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, where she has demonstrated innovative and energetic leadership. I believe Dr. Murano has a strong appreciation for the critical role of the faculty and of shared governance in a great university. She also understands the importance of student involvement and leadership at Texas A&M. An Aggie herself, she fully embraces the culture of Texas A&M that makes it a unique American institution. I am confident Elsa will continue and accelerate A&M’s forward momentum and enduring quest for excellence. Aggies should -- and, I predict, will -- be proud of President Murano. Meanwhile, I would like to thank Ed Davis for his outstanding leadership over the past year as interim president of A&M.”

- Texas Governor Rick Perry:

“I have the greatest admiration for Dr. Murano, having watched her revitalize the agriculture program at Texas A&M over the last three years. She is a nationally known researcher and food safety expert, and a visionary leader in the academic and research community. As a former student of Texas A&M, and a graduate of their animal science program, I am excited an agriculture expert will lead the university for the first time in a long time, recognizing agriculture is vital to our future and not merely our past.”

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- Norman Borlaug, the father of the Green Revolution and a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970:

“I would like to congratulate Dr. Murano upon being named the sole finalist for President of Texas A&M University, one of the great universities in the United States.

“She will bring to A&M core values that are important to our university, state and nation: superb teaching and scholarship, an international perspective, a commitment to active citizenship and an appreciation for collaboration across disciplines.

“I am confident because of the depth and diversity of Dr. Murano’s experience, her appointment as President will enable Texas A&M to strengthen our collaboration with other universities and institutions while sharpening our competitive edge in the global marketplace.

“Through her leadership I am looking forward to seeing Texas A&M build upon its mission of service in developing nations and support equity, economic growth, quality of life, and mutual respect among people.”

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- Merle Pierson, the Deputy Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics at the United States Department of Agriculture on the selection of Dr. Elsa Murano as the sole finalist for president of Texas A&M University:

“A truly highly talented and sincere person has been selected to be Texas A&M’s chief executive. I have known Dr. Murano since serving as her major professor while she pursued her Ph.D. at Virginia Tech. She is an extraordinary leader with a distinguished career in the field of food safety. At Iowa State, Texas A&M and the USDA, she did excellent work in establishing sound food safety systems. It was an honor to work under her as under secretary as she served as the nation’s highest food safety official earlier this decade.

“With her leadership on the national and international stage, her experience in managing large agencies and organizations, and her undying love for Texas A&M, I know she will be a visionary leader who will never take her eye off the goal of academic excellence and research superiority.”

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- Regents Chairman Bill Jones on the selection process:

The process

I know many of you are interested in the next item on the agenda. I want to begin my comments by addressing the process that was used in the selection of the next president of Texas A&M University. There has been some question about the process, and I want to make sure that everyone understands what was done by the board, the advisory search committee, and others to ensure the next president of Texas A&M is the right person.

On January the 5th, 2007, Chancellor McKinney…

…who is in charge of the presidential search committee for all universities within the system…

…announced that an advisory search committee would be formed to assist in finding the next president of Texas A&M University.

So, to be clear, the chancellor is in charge of the process and the advisory committee was formed to assist him in the process.

On January 9, the chancellor set forward his expectations:…a nationwide, as well as international, search for the next president…

…resulting in four to six candidates to be closely vetted and scrutinized by the committee…

…resulting in three candidates or more to be recommended by the committee to the chancellor…

…all unranked with no sole finalists.

These expectations of the advisory committee, and the committee’s charge, never changed during the committee’s existence. It was anticipated the process would take six to nine months.

After the advisory committee made their recommendations, the chancellor would then make his recommendations to the board. The board would then interview the advisory committee’s

recommended candidates as well as any other candidates the board deemed appropriate to select one or more finalists.

What actually happened

The advisory search committee was formed…

…made up of former students, current students, community members, faculty, and members of the board…

…the committee received over 140 names of possible candidates for the position…

…some submitted by the candidates themselves, and others were submitted by interested parties on behalf of the candidates.

A search firm was also utilized to assist in the process. Before any interviews were conducted, the advisory search committee reduced the number of candidates considered to a list of 10.

From their top ten list the advisory committee sent teams of committee members made up of 3 to 7 committee members to interview several candidates that agreed to be interviewed. Those team members then came back with their recommendations and discussed them with the rest of the committee. From those discussions three recommended candidates were submitted to Chancellor McKinney in August of 2007.

The committee worked hard, sacrificing personal time and resources to accomplish their results. For their efforts, we thank them.

Chancellor McKinney in turn submitted all three recommended names, unranked, to the board, for further consideration. Arrangements were immediately made to interview all three recommended candidates by the full board. Before the arrangements could be completed, one of the three candidates withdrew their name from consideration…

…even after urging by me, personally, to allow the interview to proceed as originally planned.

In September of 2007, the two remaining candidates were interviewed by all board members.

What the board did

The board determined that one of the two candidates interviewed from the committee’s recommendations should remain in consideration. The board then reviewed other candidates that had been discussed by the committee…

…but who were not interviewed by the committee for various reasons, including:…

…withdrawal from consideration by the candidate…

…the timing of the availability of the candidate…

…and the desire of the candidate to be considered for the position at the time.

Each of these candidates were contacted directly by me, and urged to make themselves available to discuss the position of president of Texas A&M University with the board of regents.

Over the next two months seven potential candidates were contacted by team members from the board. Three of those candidates declined to be considered. Four of those candidates were subsequently interviewed by all board members.

The board then met yesterday to discuss all interviewed candidates. The board members worked hard, giving up time from their families and their weekends to make initial contact and interviews with the candidates, and to participate in follow-up interviews with all board members.

It was never the board’s intent to exclude any group from the process. However, the individuals that were considered for this position are all highly placed and currently employed. Confidentiality was imperative and moving forward deliberately yet efficiently was important.

The advisory search committee was helpful in this process…

…not only by virtue of their recommendations…

…but also by virtue of the names that were available for our consideration as a result of their search efforts.

They provided us with a valuable resource of names for the next president of Texas A&M, and we thank them for that.

Our charge

I know many of you have been anxious to hear of our efforts, and to know where we were in the process since September. I trust you will understand we were limited in our ability to disclose exactly what we were doing in the process…

…or to whom we were speaking about the position…

…as the confidences of those individuals were all important since careers and families could be affected if names and positions were disclosed.

Some of those individuals are sitting college presidents, high-ranking US government officials, and other high-ranking and publicly known individuals.

Our goal throughout this entire process has been to ensure that we serve our ultimate client base, the students of Texas A&M University

…current, past and future…

…and to continue the excellent tradition of research; teaching excellence; service to our community, state and country; and all other programs of Texas A&M University.


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