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The Battalion

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A fresh, Young take: President-to-be touches base with campus, chancellor says Young will not live in on-campus president’s house

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Tim Lai — THE BATTALION

Sole finalist for university president Michael K. Young speaks at a press conference Monday.

Michael K. Young, the sole finalist for the university president position, fielded questions Monday ranging from his policies, practices and beliefs to his reason for uprooting from his previous home in Seattle to re-plant in College Station.
Young, the former president of the University of Washington and the University of Utah, will bring with him experience in academic leadership to the office vacated by former president R. Bowen Loftin.
Sharp announced Young will not live in the president’s home — occupied by every president since Earl Rudder, according to a university website. The home will instead be used to host visiting dignitaries, former students and donors. Young and his wife will find a home off campus.
“What we discovered is that sharing that house with former students, the Aggie nation, could result in a lot of goodwill and a lot of fundraising and things like that that were far more valuable than having somebody live there,” Sharp said.
Young joked about the housing decision.
“The explanation to me was, ‘Get your own damn house,’” Young said.
Chancellor John Sharp introduced Young at the press conference and expressed excitement that the nationwide search yielded such a qualified candidate.
“He is, as you know, one of the elite presidents in the U.S.,” Sharp said. “We are very fortunate to have him here.”
Young said he was happy on the shores of the Puget Sound, but the move to Aggieland represents a new and exciting venture for his career in academia.
“For me, A&M represents a unique opportunity and a different type of challenge than I’ve ever been involved with before,” Young said. “The areas at which the university works and the degree that it has penetrated the state are different, and I’m excited about that.”
Young said the attitude of A&M leaders was especially appealing when he was first contacted with the job opportunity.
“I was fascinated by [Sharp’s] vision for this university,” Young said. “I’ve been preaching to deaf ears for quite some time how important to the future of the United States great public research universities are. These are the institutions that have transformed America, and at a fundamental level, made it what it is.”
While Young believes that vision is a strong foundation, he said leaders should always be prepared for a changing landscape, unexpected obstacles and input from more than just an elite few.
“If you bring in someone that has a fixed vision, then you’ve got the wrong person,” Young said. “I’m a firm believer in building on what is strong about this university and taking ideas from the bottom up and top down, meeting somewhere in the middle to develop a grand vision.”
This vision could include some of the most pressing issues debated in the state capitol daily, including concealed carry on campus, in-state tuition for immigrants who entered the country illegally and whether or not schools should have the ability to individually set their own tuition rates. While Young declined to comment on the concealed carry issue, he was straightforward in communicating his belief that state schools have a responsibility to educate all that will stay in their state, and that individual universities should be able to make most of their own decisions without getting caught up in the red tape of overly influential government policies.
While many recent holders of the office have had some connection to A&M, Young is an outsider. He has already embraced this role, however, even joking that he’s still getting used to saying “Howdy” to greet and get the attention of a crowd of Aggies. This outside perspective, Young said, will have both pros and cons, but will hopefully bring fresh, new ideas.
“There are always advantages and disadvantages to picking someone from the outside to come in as a university president,” Young said. “[They bring] a fresh set of eyes to things and new ideas that may or may not work, but at least get put into the intellectual mix.”
These new ideas and perspectives can be important, but Young said they are nothing if they tarnish the traditions Aggies hold dearly.
“This place has traditions that have served it well, not just that they are cute things to do, but that they have meaning,” Young said. “When you think about Muster, the ring and things like that, they communicate a connection and kind of community that is representative of something that matters.”
Young will be named president of the university pending a vote by the Board of Regents after a mandatory 21-day period after being named finalist.

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