Pair of Candidates Emerge in A&M Interim President Search

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Two candidates with powerful backers are in the mix for the interim presidency at Texas A&M University.

Saturday, a special meeting of the A&M System Board of Regents will be held to discuss that role, first behind closed doors, then potentially followed by a vote.

R. Bowen Loftin announced his retirement from the post in July and has taken on the equivalent position of chancellor at the University of Missouri. His tenure at A&M ends next month.

According to A&M System Regent Tony Buzbee, Chancellor John Sharp has put his support behind Vice Chancellor and Dean for Agriculture and Life Sciences Mark Hussey.

Meanwhile, in a statement put out by Texas Governor Rick Perry's office, support is shown for A&M System Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives Guy Diedrich.

"While the decision is ultimately up to the chancellor and board of regents, the governor believes Guy Diedrich is a qualified candidate with a vision for the future of Texas A&M," said the statement from Deputy Press Secretary Lucy Nasted.

Buzbee said those were the lone, firm names he had heard when it came to candidates for the interim role, but that he asked for the Saturday meeting to allow regents the chance to discuss the matter rather than exchange emails.

Meantime, opposition to what some think it is a push by Perry to insert his choice for interim president has drawn the attention of faculty members.

In a letter sent out Friday, B. Don Russell, the chairman of A&M's distinguished professors, said the names being pushed are not necessarily the issue as much as the process.

"Even if outside political forces were promoting the most qualified person in the country, our opposition would remain the same," Russell wrote. "This university community must be allowed, without interference, to select the most appropriate and qualified interim president, without corrupting politics, threats, or cronyism. The process of selection says as much or more to the nation as the person selected."

Russell added that the credentials must be there for the interim, "both academic standing and deep experience."