Although they are now in different athletic conferences, Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin remain united in their commitment to enhancing academic excellence and the related need for legislative support financially and in other realms – hence the renewal of their “Together for Texans” program to be highlighted by "Orange & Maroon Legislative Day" scheduled for Feb. 5 in Austin.
The Association of Former Students of Texas A&M and UT-Austin’s Texas Exes are co-sponsoring “Orange & Maroon Legislative Day” as a means of generating greater awareness of the value of the two flagship institutions in educating thousands of young men and women — many of them likely future leaders for the state and nation — and underscoring the contributions they make economically and culturally to the state.
Hundreds of alumni from the two universities are expected to participate in the Legislative Day, beginning with a noon kick-off event at the Sheraton Austin at the Capitol Hotel, followed by 2:30-4:30 p.m. visits with members of the Texas Legislature in the Capitol. The day’s activities will conclude with a reception back at the hotel.
Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin and Texas President Bill Powers are scheduled to be special guests of the two associations and will join in many of the day’s activities, particularly those associated with the kick-off event and reception, event planners note.
"If it's true that efficiency is doing things right and effectiveness is doing the right things, then Texans have reason to be proud," Loftin said in pointing out that the two flagship universities are good stewards of resources entrusted to them and deserving of continued and enhanced state support. "Texas A&M and the University of Texas are extraordinarily efficient and effective. Our peers around the world continue to recognize us for providing an excellent education at a reasonable cost."
He said the overall "Together for Texans" campaign is being conducted through a statewide, grassroots network of alumni and other supporters of the two universities.
The two institutions' joint priorities for the current legislative session are (1) enhanced base funding for student instruction and academic support; (2) increased funding for the Competitive Knowledge Fund, a formula-based initiative to help hire and retain high-achieving faculty; and (3) funding for a facility for biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) research, which officials emphasize is needed to carry out a variety of studies of infectious diseases affecting humans, animals and plants--studies that can only be conducted in accordance with the most rigorous biological containment and safety levels.
Texas A&M Vice President for Government Relations Michael O'Quinn said he thinks Texas A&M has an "extraordinarily good record on which to make its case for the maximum funding for which the Legislature has the ability to provide, taking into due consideration the many needs that will be presented to lawmakers by all of the institutions, departments and agencies seeking support for their budgets for the next two years."
O'Quinn said public hearings for the Legislature’s appropriations process have already begun, with Loftin testifying before the Senate Finance Committee on Jan. 28.
For more information about "Orange & Maroon Legislative Day," including a more detailed account of the universities' legislative priorities and how to register for the day's activities, go to http://omld.AggieNetwork.com.