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

The Battalion

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

The Battalion

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Future of Arts & Sciences

Photo by Samuel Falade

Senior Alexis King talks with a student at the College of Arts & Sciences Launch Party in the East Quad on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022.

The Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences is expanding the college through a new hiring initiative, expanding current scholarships and improving opportunities for students.

On Oct. 24, the Arts and Sciences Interim Dean José Luis Bermúdez, Ph.D., sent an email to all of the college’s students and faculty announcing his new Transformational Hiring Initiative. In his email, Bermúdez clarified the purpose of ongoing changes in the college.

“This initiative is designed to kick-start the process of elevating the College of Arts and Sciences to a position of national and international prominence,” Bermúdez wrote.

Bermúdez said the new initiative authorized departments to make at least one new “transformational hire” through aggressive recruiting to add to the number of stellar faculty at Texas A&M.

The email further defined a transformational hire as someone who would add to the prestige of each department, furthering current areas of strength and creating new collaborations within the college, with other colleges and other schools.

In an interview with The Battalion, Bermúdez said his goal is to improve the reputation of the program, stating that many other colleges have reputable arts and science programs. For A&M, the new initiative authorizes departments to actively seek additional, prestigious hires for the college. In the past, candidates would have to apply themselves to work at A&M.

Bermúdez said each department was tasked with creating a list of three possibly attainable professionals in each field of study. From there, departments can actively begin additional recruiting measures. While the number of hires will vary, Bermúdez said all departments will be able to hire at least one new member.

“This type of recruiting takes time, and there is no expectation that the process will be completed this academic year,” Bermúdez wrote in his initial email.

Bermúdez said A&M can expect to start seeing changes from this initiative beginning in the 2023-2024 academic year.

According to the statistics provided on behalf of the College of Arts and Sciences, the college currently has around 19,000 students, including undergraduate and graduate students. The college also has over 4,000 first-generation students, accounting for 25% of its students.

In addition to the new initiative, Bermúdez said he plans to increase opportunities and support for students in the college.

“To achieve that we will increase support for students, improve resources for student success and innovate in the curriculum to prepare students for their future careers,” Bermúdez said. “The scale and structure provided by the new college will be indispensable in these efforts.”

Bermúdez said it is important for arts and sciences to continue to support its sizable population of first-generation students through the college’s Regents’ Scholars program. First awarded in fall 2004, the Regents’ Scholars program assists first-generation students from low-income families by providing a renewable four-year scholarship and academic support.

Bermúdez played a critical role in helping elevate the Regents’ program in Arts and Sciences, and identified one of his top priorities Bermúdez played a critical role in helping elevate the Regents’ program in arts and sciences, and identified one of his top priorities as enhancing the support of the program to increase student success. Currently, the College of Arts and Sciences has about 1,000 Regents’ Scholars, and in the 2023-2024 academic year, Bermúdez expects another 200 scholars.

Along with expanding the Regents’ program, Bermúdez is working with his development team to increase other endowed scholarships for undergraduates and students interested in studying abroad, as he believes that going overseas can be a transformational experience for students.

Additionally, arts and sciences graduate student stipends will be raised.

Effective Jan. 1, 2023, the minimum stipend for 9-month teacher assistants and research assistants will be $20,000. According to Bermúdez, additional funds will be available for the summer in many departments.

Bermúdez is also reviewing programs that would provide travel funds and professional development support for arts and sciences graduate students.These new developments and plans for the future of the College of Arts and Sciences are fundamental in expanding the support for its students.

Communications senior Alexis King is co-founder and co-president of the Student Council of arts and sciences, or SCAS. King said while she hasn’t heard about this in her classes, through the SCAS she feels new staff would be beneficial to students.

“I was surprised I hadn’t necessarily heard much talk of this initiative in any of my classes, or from faculty that I personally interact with,” King said. “However, in talking to council leaders and talking with professors and faculty, I’ve really gathered that this is an opportunity to bring in some highly qualified people.”

King said she has thought about how the initiative would impact students on an undergraduate level.

“For the undergraduate experience, it’s not only bringing in people who are experts in their field, but also people who are passionate about transforming the everyday classroom experience,” King said.

King said she believes classroom experiences can really set apart students’ time at A&M.

“What the [SCAS] really wants to see is just passionate professors that want to engage with students that want to provide experiences in the classroom,” King said.

When asked about the council’s thoughts on expanding the Regents’ program, King said expanding scholarships is always a positive thing, and the council approves Bermúdez’s plans.

“It just increases access for higher education for individuals who might have not otherwise had the opportunity to attend,” King said.

King also supports Bermúdez’s plans to increase scholarships, especially those for studying abroad. Reflecting on her time studying abroad, King said it made a special impact on her overall experience at A&M.

King said that SCAS is supportive of the increase in minimum stipends for graduate students.

“[It] is awesome that the college is deciding to support [the] passionate individuals who are contributing to our academic experience here within the college,” King said.

When asked if SCAS thought there should be any additional priorities for the college, King was interested in seeing facilities that align with the college’s mission.

“It’s really about student engagement [and] creating spaces where arts and sciences [students] can come and collaborate and share ideas,” King said.

King stated the college is committed to keeping up its passion for improvement.

“Whether it’s large events or initiatives 10 years down the line, when this college is more established, we [will] still see this passion from our administration,” King said.

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About the Contributor
Ana Renfroe
Ana Renfroe, Head News Editor
Ana Renfroe, Class of 2025, is a journalism junior with a minor in professional writing from Bryan, Texas. Ana has served as The Battalion's head news editor from May 2023 to May 2024. Previously, she was the assistant news editor for the spring 2023 semester. Ana has covered breaking news, politics, and more. She typically covered the Texas A&M System and university administration, Texas and Bryan-College Station politics, student government and more. Ana previously hosted and produced episodes of The Batt Signal, The Battalion's news podcast. Additionally, she was a copyeditor and feature writer for Maroon Life magazine, and helped contribute to the Aggieland Yearbook.
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