Engineering programs at Texas A&M's campus in the Middle East have earned a high honor, but it's one the former university president seems to have claimed had already happened.
A&M announced Tuesday that the four programs based in Qatar have been accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, or ABET.
“We are pleased that Texas A&M’s Qatar campus has been accredited by ABET, which validates something that we have known for a long time — our Qatar engineering graduates are of the highest caliber and will be a part of the next generation of Aggie leaders,” said A&M Interim President Bowen Loftin in a press release Tuesday.
But the accreditation that came Tuesday was something former Texas A&M president Elsa Murano claimed had happened under her watch.
In the now-infamous self-evaluation which led to low marks from A&M System Chancellor Mike McKinney, Murano wrote as a major accomplishment that, under her tenure, A&M "successfully obtained accreditation for our four engineering programs at our campus in Qatar from ABET. This opens the door for the establishment of a full-fledged graduate program and adds great credibility and prestige to our Qatar campus and its graduates."
Chancellor McKinney noted, among other things, that Murano had poor honesty and integrity, and sources with knowledge of the Murano evaluation tell News 3 her statement on ABET accreditation was a factor in the divide that eventually led to Murano resigning the presidency.
News 3 was the first news organization to report on Murano's evaluation after obtaining the document through an open records request. Shortly thereafter, officials with ABET told News 3 A&M Qatar had not obtained any accreditation with their organization, though they could not comment on whether any accreditation process was in progress.
The following is the Texas A&M press release on the accreditation of the Qatar engineering programs:
Texas A&M University at Qatar received notification that the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET has conferred accreditation on all four of the university’s engineering programs in Qatar.
ABET is the premier accreditation authority for institutions offering degree programs in applied science, computing, engineering and technology. Accreditation means that an academic program meets quality standards set by academic and professional leaders in the disciplines.
Mark H. Weichold, dean and CEO of Texas A&M at Qatar, said the accreditation was a welcome endorsement of the university’s first-rate engineering programs in Education City.
“Academic excellence is our business,” Weichold said, “and ABET accreditation is a key marker of the quality to which we aspire.” The university’s bachelor of science programs in chemical engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and petroleum engineering all received accreditation and the accreditation applies to all degrees awarded to Texas A&M at Qatar graduates after Oct. 1, 2007.
R. Bowen Loftin, interim president of Texas A&M, lauded the news. “We are pleased that Texas A&M’s Qatar campus has been accredited by ABET, which validates something that we have known for a long time — our Qatar engineering graduates are of the highest caliber and will be a part of the next generation of Aggie leaders,” Loftin said. “We appreciate the long-standing partnership Texas A&M has had with the Qatar Foundation as we work together in developing a world-class, comprehensive engineering program in Qatar.”
Dr. G. Kemble Bennett, vice chancellor and dean of engineering at Texas A&M, sent his congratulations after hearing news of ABET accreditation for Texas A&M at Qatar. “This is a significant achievement for Texas A&M at Qatar, and I applaud the faculty and staff who worked so diligently toward this goal,” he said.
Weichold noted that Texas A&M was invited to Education City because of its reputation for having one of the world’s best engineering programs. He said independent ABET accreditation is a good indication that the University has successfully replicated its renowned degree programs in Qatar.
“The independent accreditation of the University’s campus in Qatar as a branch campus of Texas A&M is prestigious affirmation that our academic programs are of the caliber necessary to educate engineers who are ready to work in today’s fast-changing and technology-driven world,” he said.