A&M Regents Deal with TEEX, Farewells, Gates

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In other news coming out of Friday's Regents meeting, the director of the Texas Engineering Extension Service has been reassigned.

Robert "Lanny" Smith will work closely with Chancellor Michael McKinney on a number of project, though a firm title has not been determined.

Smith was named director in 2003, but had recently been placed on administrative leave during an investigation of TEEX. McKinney said that investigation turned up no illegal or improper activity, only philosophical differences in the way the service was led.

"He's got lots to give, and I think it would be a mistake to throw away those kind of skills, and frankly, that type of commitment to Texas A&M," McKinney said of Smith.

Deputy Director Arturo Alonzo also recently stepped down.

The vice chancellor and dean of engineering at A&M, Kem Bennett, is the interim director.

Also, it was an emotional farewell to a quartet of System Regents. Phil Adams, Wendy Gramm, Lowry Mays, and Student Regent Tyson Voelkel have all finished their terms. Their colleagues honored each for the service to the system.

Governor Perry will go about selecting replacements. System officials say they are hopeful those choices will be made this month. However, it is not unprecedented for outgoing Regents to serve an extra meeting before selections are made.

The next Regents meetings are slated for the end of March.

Whether staying or going, all the Regents honored former A&M President Robert Gates with the title of "President Emeritus."

Individuals who have made significant contributions to the system are selected for the "emeritus" honor. The new Secretary of Defense will now be invited to special functions and meetings, and will be granted some use of services and facilities within university rules.