The Texas A&M System Board of Regents has announced its search committee to seek out the next president of its flagship university.
Board Chairman Morris Foster laid out his vision for the search in remarks Thursday at the Regents meeting.
A group of 15 people, headed up by Regent Richard Box, will conduct a nationwide search for the next president. A list of between eight and 12 candidates will be found, according to Foster, with interviews to follow.
That short list will be shortened further to three or four, with even more interviews to take place. Foster said he hopes to have that short list of three to four by January, with a finalist for the job by February.
Foster says the search could take longer if more time is needed.
"If it takes longer than January, we'll take longer, but I think we owe it to ourselves to establish a target, work hard, and see if we can meet that target," Foster said.
Ultimately, it is the board's final decision on a presidential finalist, a point proven in 2007 when Regents disregarded the recommendations of the search committee in naming Elsa Murano as the lone finalist.
Foster says he is confident this committee will bring a strong list to the board.
"We will have a number of candidates that's brought to the board that are going to be acceptable, and we'll end up selecting the best one from that group," Foster said.
Asked if the last search committee wasn't well organized to bring the best candidates, Foster said no. "It's difficult to compare one versus the other because different times, different place, different needs."
Box, as chairman, joins two other Regents, five faculty members, two students and five others with ties to A&M.
"We're going to be comprehensive and inclusive, and we want all the stakeholders in the Aggie community to have input," Box said.
That includes a website set up by the System for the Aggie family to provide input, as well as town hall meetings across the state.
Foster also said no budget had been set for the search, but that the budget wouldn't control the search process.
Murano resigned last month after receiving a poor performance assessment from System Chancellor Mike McKinney, and the subsequent firestorm.
The interim president of A&M is R. Bowen Loftin, who heads up the Galveston campus for A&M. Foster praised Loftin for his "strong leadership" over the past month, and that he would make a good candidate for the presidency permanently if he would want to be considered. Foster said that discussion had not taken place with Loftin yet.
Last month shortly after he took on the interim role, Loftin said it was too early for him to know whether he would want the job permanently.
The following is the press release issued Thursday by the Texas A&M System concerning the search for the next A&M president:
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – A 15-member search committee to select the next president of Texas A&M University was announced today by Morris E. Foster, chairman of The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents. The committee consists of three regents, five faculty members, two student members and five other members representing various stakeholders from Texas A&M, The Texas A&M University System and the Aggie community.
Regent Richard Box will serve as the chairman of the committee. The other members are:
1. Regent Ida Clement Steen
2. Regent Lupe Fraga
3. Dr. John Junkins – Distinguished Professor; Regents Professor; Director, Center for Mechanics and Control, Department of Aerospace Engineering
4. Dr. Tim Hall – Distinguished Professor; Director, Institute of Developmental and Molecular Biology, Department of Biology
5. Dr. Robert Bednarz – Speaker, Faculty Senate; Professor, Department of Geography
6. Dr. Mark Hussey – Vice Chancellor and Dean of College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Former Head of Soil & Crop Sciences Department
7. Dr. Antonio Cepeda-Benito – Dean of Faculties and Associate Provost
8. Mr. Eric Beckham – Student Body President
9. Ms. Meredith Maloney – President, Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medicine Assn.
10. Ms. Shelley Potter – Chair of the Board, The Association of Former Students
11. Mr. Thomas Saylak – Chairman of Board of Trustees, Texas A&M Foundation
12. Mr. Neal Adams – Attorney; Former Vice Chair and Member, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
13. Dr. David Parrott – Executive Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Student Life
14. Dr. Frank Ashley – Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, A&M System
It is expected that a finalist will be chosen for recommendation to the board at its meeting in mid-February 2010.
The new president will replace Dr. Elsa A. Murano, who resigned June 15. Dr. R. Bowen Loftin, vice president of Texas A&M and chief executive officer of Texas A&M University at Galveston, was named interim president of Texas A&M.
“We are committed to finding the best president possible to guide our flagship university,” said Foster. “And we want to be sure that the final choice reflects the maximum possible input from everyone who loves Texas A&M and wants it to continue along its historic path of excellence.”
In undertaking its search, the board gave the committee the following charge:
The Texas A&M University President Search Committee is charged with undertaking a comprehensive and inclusive search for the very best and most qualified candidates for the position of president of Texas A&M University. In conducting the search, each member of the Committee shall (a) act in the best interests of Texas A&M, setting aside their own personal interests, and (b) conduct the search in a manner that preserves the identity of the candidates and deliberations of the Committee as confidential such that the Committee might attract top talent and engage in the free and open exchange of information, ideas and thoughts. The Committee shall work expeditiously with the goal of delivering a list of the top three candidates to the Board in early January 2010.
The search process will begin with outreach initiatives that will include town hall sessions, visits to stakeholder groups, and solicitation of thoughts and comments through a presidential search website.
The initial pool of applicants will be evaluated by the search committee and a short list of preliminary candidates will be interviewed off-site. From that group, the search committee will select three to four semi-finalists to be invited to College Station for on-campus interviews and feedback from members of key stakeholder groups. Following these on-site interviews, the committee will make its recommendations as to the top three candidates (unranked) to the board of regents for interviews and ultimately final selection and approval.
“We believe this process will be one of the most interactive and progressive ever undertaken in selecting a president for Texas A&M University,” said Chancellor Michael D. McKinney. “It is tremendously exciting to be able to use the search as a way not only to find a new president, but to also reach out to the greater Aggie community regarding their thoughts and recommendations on how we can best advance Texas A&M.”
A complete list of committee members and further information on the ongoing search process is available on the Texas A&M website at http://www.tamu.edu/president/search/.