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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

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A&M President announces MGT report approvals

President+M.+Katherine+Banks+approved+some%2C+but+not+all+of+the+recommendations+from+the+MGT+of+American+Consultings+report+on+the+universitys+organization+as+of+Dec.+14.%26%23160%3B
Photo by Photo by Samuel Falade

President M. Katherine Banks approved some, but not all of the recommendations from the MGT of American Consulting’s report on the university’s organization as of Dec. 14. 

Following a feedback and evaluation period, which garnered over 3,000 comments, Texas A&M President M. Katherine Banks released her plans regarding the MGT of American Consulting, or MGT, and Martin+Crumpton Group recommendations for the university.
Banks did not accept every recommendation, but instead said her guidance reflected the needs regarding current university structure and modifications that were unique to A&M based on the report. In the Tuesday, Dec. 14 press release, Banks said though she has recommended these changes, the Board of Regents has final approval on many projects are ultimately implemented, including the creation of new departments as well as the construction of new buildings.
Provost Office
To increase the focus on excellence and engagement of academic life, Banks approved the recommendation to change the provost title to provost and chief academic officer to allow the individual in the role to focus on the academic interests of the university for students.
The report also called for evaluation of the Higher Education Center at McAllen, which Banks said she supports.
“I believe all of our remote programs are crucial to reaching students statewide, delivering quality education and ensuring community outreach — all part of our Land Grant mission,” Banks said in the statement. “We will provide increased focus on efforts to enhance our branch campuses and teaching sites in Qatar, South Texas-McAllen, Houston-EnMed, Fort Worth/Dallas and Galveston.”
Though the MGT report recommended the centralization of the undergraduate advising across the university, Banks said she would not go forward with the recommendation, but would make slight modifications to the current process including the move of two colleges to a college-centralized advising to align with the rest of the university.
Additionally, a campus-wide advising software will be used to improve student services for students transferring between colleges on campus.
Faculty Affairs
Banks said coming into her role as president, one of the main concerns was the excessive requirements for faculty, which she said she believes can become more efficient in the creation of a vice president for Faculty Affairs who will report directly to her, replacing the current role of the dean of faculty.
Approving this recommendation, Banks said the university will be looking to fill the spot immediately, naming a selection committee to begin the search process.
Academic and Strategic Collaboration
As a push toward growing the number of students with knowledge of A&M, Banks said the Office of Academic and Strategic Collaboration will now include centralized coordination of recruiters, who will focus on getting students to the university, while the Office of the Provost will work on the retention of current students.
With the importance of diversity to the university, Banks said she would not approve the recommended reporting structure of the vice president for Diversity and will continue to have this individual report directly to her.
Banks said the university is invested in many outreach programs and initiatives to serve Texas, though she calls for the evaluation of said programs to see the reach of the impact in the state, but if there is no impact, she calls for elimination of the program.
Noting the need for the Board of Regents’ approval in all capital projects, Banks shared her support for the addition of a performing arts center, A&M museum, hospitality center and the expansion of campus gardens, though she notes the Board of Regents must approve all capital projects.
Academic realignments
In the Vision 2020 document, the university recognized the need for a stronger arts and sciences program to help A&M be seen as a premier university.
“As we look at the colleges around the university, we have many colleges that have overlapped, and in fact, the college structure has limited our interaction and multidisciplinary program formation,” Banks said in a meeting with the press on Tuesday. “I believe it’s time that we come together, we remove the barriers, we have a critical mass within this college that provides education for the foundation of our degree programs. And as we do that, we can utilize resources collectively and perhaps move forward with new initiatives that will benefit all three of the existing colleges [of Liberal Arts, Geosciences and Science].”
Banks hopes to achieve this with the consolidation of these three colleges to become the College of Arts and Sciences, which will be in operation by Sept. 1, 2022.
“All three colleges are remarkable now. They’re nationally recognized. We’re very proud of their activities and their performance today,” Banks said. “However, I believe together, they can form a catalyst system that will allow them to grow even more bright, [have] more impact to have unusual and unique educational opportunities for our students. They’re wonderful now, great colleges, but [they will] be even better as a unit.”
In addition, all university studies programs will be housed in the College of Arts and Sciences under a new division called the “interdisciplinary programs.”
The MGT report suggested the movement of University Libraries to the aforementioned new college to create a Department of Library Sciences, though Banks said she would modify the recommendation.
“The University Libraries will be administratively modified to become a service unit to efficiently and effectively provide top quality service to the campus community,” Banks’ report reads. “The leader of this administrative unit will be the University Librarian, which will replace the current Dean of Libraries, and will report directly to the provost. As a service unit, the University Libraries will no longer serve as a tenure home for faculty.”
There was also support from both students and Banks for the creation of a School of Visual and Performing Arts, which will host new arts programs as well as the Department of Visualization, which is currently housed under the College of Architecture. Banks said the new school will be housed within a new Performing Arts Center.
“This community is hungry for a cultural center,” Banks said. “Our students are hungry for degree programs in the fine arts, music and performing arts.”
Regarding the reestablishment of a Department of Journalism, Banks said she supported the program, though more discussion is needed on where to place the program.
“There is a significant need for Aggie journalists committed to upholding our Core Values and the tenets of journalism,” Banks said in Tuesday’s statement. “Many alumni of our former journalism program have expressed strong support and interest in reviving this program.”
Banks also expressed approval for the expansion of the Bush School of Government and Public Service, with the move of the departments of Political Science and International Studies to the school, as well as potentially more undergraduate programs.
“It is time to make the Bush School a crown jewel of Texas A&M University. It is time for us to see the Bush School as the embodiment of Selfless Service on this campus, it’s time to have many programs connected with the Bush School, including minors and degree programs,” Banks said. “We have this wonderful opportunity to use the legacy of George H.W. Bush to impact this campus overall, and impact all 73,000 students, not just the 500 students who currently are taking classes in the Bush School.”
As part of the recommendation for the creation of an Institute of Biological Life Sciences in AgriLife, Banks said there would be no changes to the degree programs. Instead, there will be a new administrative home allowing growth for the program such as a life science meta-major.
“The meta-major approach allows students to generally select life science as [a] major, complete a common first year while learning about the different majors available in life science across campus and then move into upper-level courses seamlessly in year two after a major is identified,” Banks’ report reads.
Additionally, the new institute would allow for the College of Veterinary Medicine to focus on intimate details of the program including the professional degree, a research portfolio and the construction of a new state-of-the-art small animal teaching hospital. Banks said she also supported the administrative move of some programs to AgriLife, though it is not yet clear what will be moved.
“I support shifting the administrative management of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences research grants and facilities to AgriLife,” Banks said in the report. “However, determination of which facilities to be transferred will be made through working group discussions led by [Vice President for Research] Jack Baldauf.”
Though the MGT report called for the removal of the Department of Construction Sciences from the College of Architecture, Banks said the program would remain in the college.
The School of Public Health will now welcome all health education programs including clinical research facilities associated with the health education division. Additionally, the Department of Health and Kinesiology will see a name change to the Department of Kinesiology and Sports Management to avoid confusion regarding potential future health programs.
In response to the confusion between what is considered a school and what is a college, Banks called for a standard for the namings in Tuesday’s report.
“I propose that the unit’s name be changed to School and they become the Schools of Architecture, Veterinary Medicine, Education, Medicine, Nursing, Dentistry and Pharmacy,” Banks said in the report. “Since the new College of Arts and Science will have a broad mission, and the Colleges of Engineering and Agriculture and Life Sciences are broadly engaged in both an academic mission and a state-wide focus through the state agencies, they would remain as colleges.”
Though the Galveston campus was not evaluated in the initial report, Banks said an internal review will be conducted to evaluate if administrative changes are needed for a better connection between academic units and remote locations.
Student Affairs
According to the report, Banks said the feedback was very split in the call for the alignment of student organizations and the role of the advisors to allow transparency and accountability. Ultimately, Banks decided to approve the recommendation from MGT to evaluate the current requirements of student organizations.
“To summarize, many students were not supportive of increased oversight for recognized university student organizations whereas former students, faculty and staff, while acknowledging the importance of learning by doing, felt the institution has a responsibility to ensure these high impact learning experiences align with the mission of the university,” Banks said in the report. “I believe an important aspect of this recommendation is balance, clarity, consistency and accountability in the operation of university-recognized student organizations, not control.”
Banks, as well as stakeholders, said they were in favor of the move of Student Health Services and Counseling and Psychological Services, or CAPS, into Texas A&M Health to allow for the expansion of high impact practices.
“We have an amazing Health Science Center, amazing health sites here that have a depth of resources that we don’t have in Student Affairs by moving the Health Services Center as well as CAPS, which is our counseling center, to the Health Science Center that allows us to work more broadly with different caregivers across the region,” Banks said. “We also can contract with other types of organizations that would expand the services, particularly counseling services that we have on campus.”
Facilities, Finance/Business Administration, HR, IT, Marketing and Communications
Banks said with the number of departments and colleges, many staff members have similar titles and duties, but see differences in career path opportunities, salary and mentorship opportunities. To alleviate these differences, the report called for the centralization of resources which Banks said caused some confusion during the feedback period.
“It was clear that the term ‘centralization’ has a variety of meanings across stakeholder groups. I would like to underscore that centralization of function does not necessarily require removing employees from current duties or locations,” Banks said in the statement. “However, it should produce better professional alignment and oversight.”
To achieve this alignment, Banks is in support of a centralized administrative structure with leaders who have had experience in the elevation of services to help ensure continuity.
Next steps
In Tuesday’s release, Banks also announced the creation of working groups for each recommendation, which will be created mid-January. The working groups will take nominations until Jan. 7 and will consist of nominations for students, faculty, former students and community members.
“I would be happy to receive nominations from communities because if we think about the performing arts center, the museum, the hospitality center and the small animal hospital — these are community efforts,” Banks said. “These programs don’t develop, and certainly the facilities aren’t utilized appropriately unless we partner with College Station and Bryan, so community involvement will be much appreciated.”
A&M Chief Operations Officer Greg Hartman will lead the Strategic Implementation Oversight Committee, which will be made up of the chairperson of each working group, the speaker of the Faculty Senate, student body president and chair of the University Council.
Banks said she is optimistic of the deadline of Sept. 1, 2022, for full implementation of all of the recommendations after the conclusion of the working groups’ research.
“We’re Texas A&M, we can get this done,” Banks said.

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