The A&M System Board of Regents has approved eight reassignments of key university personnel.
At Friday's meeting of the board, unanimous approval was giving to President Elsa Murano's plans, which includes the creation of new positions and the reassignment of other personnel.
Murano has been president less than a month, but the approved changes are a result of numerous consultations and considerations by the president, who has been conducting numerous interviews since her naming as a finalist for the position.
"I think I have a jump start on someone who may have come here as president from the outside," Murano said, "and with that advantage, I figured I'd better use it and get going with the things we need to do."
Among the changes is the addition of a second executive vice president who will oversee university operations. Russell Cross will take that post as the nationwide search for an executive V.P. of academics continues.
Current vice presidents Robert Walker -- who is now serving his eighth A&M president -- Michael O'Quinn and Sue Redman have received new assignments in the administration, while Jason Cook is taking over as vice president of marketing and communications, a position held by Steve Moore, who will remain as the university's chief marketing officer.
The vote by the board was unanimous. Regent John White says Murano did an excellent job explaining the moves to the regents.
"I commend Dr. Murano, very, very well thought," White said. "We have excellent people in place, and it's great to keep them as part of the family at Texas A&M, and add to what they're doing."
"I know all of these people very well," Murano said, "so I know that it's going to be a tremendous team that's going to take us forward in an incredible way."
The following is a press release from Texas A&M explaining the changes:
COLLEGE STATION, Jan. 25, 2008 -- A revamped Texas A&M University leadership team proposed by President Elsa Murano -- one that includes adding new senior-level positions and expanding the roles and responsibilities of some current positions -- was formally approved Friday by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents.
"After much consideration, I am confident that I have assembled a dynamic, dedicated, highly experienced and results-oriented leadership team. I have moved quickly because time is of the essence," Murano said in announcing the appointments, effective Feb. 1. She noted she is drawing on assessments made during her previous three years as vice chancellor and dean of agriculture and life sciences at Texas A&M and her overall 12-year association with the university, dating back to her time as a member of the faculty.
Murano said the urgency in moving quickly is driven in part by the need to regain and maintain momentum in meeting the key goals of Vision 2020, the university's road map for becoming a consensus top 10 public institution of higher learning by the year 2020.
"Several members of our new leadership team were instrumental in the transformation made within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and across the agriculture-related agencies, which has been highly successful, as the regents have recognized," Murano said.
The new leadership team will be headed by two executive vice presidents, one whose responsibilities will concentrate solely on academic matters, including budgetary oversight for all activities affecting teaching and research and related activities, while the other will be responsible for management oversight of areas such as facilities and operations, governmental affairs, marketing and communications, and development.
Murano said a nationwide search will be conducted to select the best person to fill the position of executive vice president for academics and provost. "Elevating academics is of the highest priority," she emphasized. Jerry R. Strawser, currently interim executive vice president and provost, will continue to serve in that position while the national search is being conducted.
H. Russell Cross, currently deputy vice chancellor and associate dean of agriculture and life sciences, will serve as executive vice president for operations.
"I have worked closely with Dr. Cross for many years -- most recently during the past three years in my position as vice chancellor and dean of agriculture and life sciences," noted Murano. "He is a visionary leader with strong administrative, financial management and strategic communications skills at large, complex organizations, and I can think of no other individual more qualified for such an important role for the university."
Several other seasoned professionals will join Murano?s leadership team at the vice-presidential level. All are new to their roles, but have extensive university and A&M System experience.
The position of vice president for governmental affairs will be filled by Courtney K. Trolinger, who presently serves as assistant vice chancellor for external relations for the agriculture program. Michael G. O'Quinn, currently vice president for governmental affairs, will now serve as vice president for institutional and federal affairs. Among other duties, he will help draft policy in higher education issues of importance to Texas A&M and will represent the university with key national higher education associations.
Chad E. Wootton, now senior director of development for the Texas A&M Foundation, has been named vice president for development and strategic outreach. Wootton will be responsible for promoting the university's response to development-related issues and opportunities in conjunction with support entities such as the Texas A&M Foundation, Association of Former Students, 12th Man Foundation, Texas A&M Research Foundation, and any other Texas A&M affiliates. Robert L. Walker, who currently holds that position, will focus his efforts as Texas A&M's senior executive for development, and will be an integral and key member of the strategic development team.
"Dr. Walker is a seasoned professional in the field of development, and I am very enthusiastic about what he and Chad Wootton will accomplish together," Murano added.
Jason D. Cook has been promoted to vice president for marketing and communications. In his new role, he will be responsible for enhancing Texas A&M?s image, creating greater awareness of the university's contribution to research and discovery and effectively communicating the university's vital role in improving the lives of the people in the state, nation and world. He presently serves in a similar executive-level position for the agriculture program. Steven B. Moore, currently Texas A&M's chief marketing officer and vice president for communications, will continue to serve as chief marketing officer.
K. Sue Redman, previously senior vice president for finance and chief financial officer, will serve the university in a new capacity as special assistant to the president. Terry A. Pankratz, the university's associate vice president for finance and controller, has been appointed interim senior vice president for finance and chief financial officer while a search will begin immediately to fill the position on a permanent basis.
Murano noted that several of the new appointees have previously worked closely together and with her when she was vice chancellor and dean of agriculture and life sciences. "They are experienced professionals from diverse backgrounds who have proven records of successfully working in a collaborative team environment and alongside me in recent months and years," she observed.
Rounding out the presidential-level leadership team will be Dean Bresciani, vice president for student affairs; Charles A. Sippial, Sr., vice president for facilities; Tito Guerrero, III, vice president for diversity and associate provost; Pierce E. Cantrell, vice president and associate provost for information technology; and James A. Calvin, interim vice president for research. Also, the overall leadership team includes R. Bowen Loftin, vice president and chief executive officer for Texas A&M University at Galveston, Mark Weichold, dean and chief executive officer for Texas A&M University at Qatar, and R. C. Slocum, special advisor to the president.
Murano said no changes are anticipated at the deanship level, but noted that a search is underway for her successor as dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Mark A. Hussey, director of A&M System-member Texas AgriLife Research, is currently serving as interim dean. Also, Dean Richard Adams of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences had announced last year his intention to step down in 2009, and a search for his replacement will begin in the near future. A search for the dean of the College of Architecture began last fall and should be completed in the next few months.