Murano Gets Poor First Annual Review

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Texas A&M President Elsa Murano got low marks in her first annual performance review, one conducted by A&M System Chancellor Mike McKinney.

News 3 was the first news organization to report on the documents, which were obtained Thursday through an open records request to the System office. It notes the review period was between January 2008 and February 2009.

In the report, Murano received poor marks on a scale of one to five (two and one being on the "poor" end of the scale) on issues like Decision Making, Follow Through, Acting Decisively and Timely, Accepting Responsibility for Decisions, Financial Management, Change Management, Human Resources Management, Relationship with the Board of Regents and Chancellor, Honesty, and Being a Team Player.

McKinney makes notations throughout the assessment. For example, on Decision Making, he writes, "Too slow. Is very inclusive and listens to some constituents (some faculty, some students, some alumni). Fails to assume responsibility for decisions (should work WITH faculty, not FOR)"

On the evaluation for the Follow Through category, McKinney wrote Murano "Does good job on things she likes. Very poor on carrying out Board, System decisions with which she disagrees."

Murano was praised for her crisis management skills. "Very Good - Hurricane IKE and TAMUG," McKinney wrote. "Boat incident handled well," he wrote, likely referencing the Cynthia Woods accident in the Gulf of Mexico.

In 40 separate categories ranked on the one-to-five scale, Murano averaged a 2.7.

Dr. Murano released the following response regarding her review:

"The documents that I provided to the Chancellor both prior to and following his evaluation are self-explanatory and speak to the tremendous progress we have made in terms of re-energizing Vision 2020 and continuing Texas A&M's legacy of service to the state and country," President Elsa A. Murano said. "It is the university's long-standing practice not to discuss personnel matters, and staying consistent with this practice, I will decline to comment further."

Murano did send a nearly 30-page response to the chancellor and the entire Board of Regents.

In her reaction to Dr. McKinney giving her a two for honesty and integrity, Murano wrote,"Only a president who is deceitful, malicious, or who is known to break rules or even the law would rate this low on these very important character traits. Such a low rating regarding my honesty and integrity goes beyond the pale and I consider personally insulting.

"In summary, Dr. McKinney's evaluation of my performance is extremely far removed from the facts of my performance," she continued. "One need only consider that if it was an actual reflection of the job I have done as president, there would have been an incredible outcry from the entire university community, as well as from every prominent former student organization, to the Board of Regents, demanding that something be done about it."

Recently, as System officials have discussed cost-cutting measures due to the economic slowdown, a combining of the System chancellor and A&M president positions has been discussed, an idea McKinney downplayed in previous conversations with News 3, saying numerous options were being examined to save money across the System.

"Some of the stuff that's been printed and some of the things that...good news is, I don't look at blogs, so I don't pay attention to that, but some of the things are just not helpful to the university," McKinney said Thursday in an exclusive interview with News 3, "and some of the things that are helpful to the university can, in fact, be criticisms."

When asked if he had a desire to become the president of A&M, McKinney said, "I've got a nice job. I've got a great job. When I first came, I told you this (chancellor) was my dream job. This is what I wanted to be. This is what I still want to be. This is what I want to be tomorrow."

Asked if he wanted a combined chancellor-president job, McKinney added, "the short answer is no. I don't want to be the president of any of the universities. It's just not what I like."

McKinney cited increased enrollment at A&M's College Station campus, including better diversity, among the things going well. He said research dollars and national recognition for achievements are on the rise.

Asked if Murano has helped with those issues, McKinney would only say, "She's been president when some of those have taken place."

Upon Murano's selection as A&M president by regents in December 2007, McKinney told News 3, "I view this as having a teammate," he said. "She's got the enthusiasm. She understands the Aggie Spirit, and she'll pick up some of the things Dr. Gates started."

Asked Thursday whether he still thought he had a teammate, McKinney only said, "I stand by that I said that," referring to his 2007 comment.

McKinney declined to go into further detail concerning Murano beyond what his assessment read.