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

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

The Battalion

Brazos County officials are distributing free backpacks, school supplies and gift cards for K-12 students on July 12 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Bryan High Silver Campus Cafeteria.
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Graduate G Tyrece Radford (23) drives to the basket during Texas A&Ms game against Nebraska in the first round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee, on Friday, March 22, 2024. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)
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Craig Reagans 1973 brown Mach 1 Mustang features custom stickers of Craig and his wife, and is completely rebuilt from the ground up. The interior was completely torn out and replaced with new dashboard and radio.
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Chancellor John Sharp during a Board of Regents meeting discussing the appointmet of interim dean Mark Welsh and discussion of a McElroy settlement on Sunday, July 30, 2023 in the Memorial Student Center.
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Government Relations bridges gap between A&M, legislature

As a public university and a hub for an array of research, Texas A&M relies on funding from a multitude of sources. While tuition paid by students offers some of the money necessary to run the university, federal and state funding provide a significant portion. The Government Relations team, made of members from Texas A&M and the branch campuses, works to ensure continued government support for much of the research taking place across the Texas A&M System.
Tommy Williams, vice chancellor for Federal and State Relations, said one of the team’s main goals is to inform legislators of the impact policy decisions have on the Texas A&M University System. Michael O’Quinn, vice president for Government Relations at A&M, said the team works on a regular basis to keep members of the Texas Congress up to date with A&M.
“Legislators make laws and they want to know how those laws affect A&M,” O’Quinn said.” That could be anything from regulations, laws relating to curriculum. Think of Texas A&M as kind of like a city. There are a lot of things from utilities that relate to us, a whole gamut of things. We also have A&M faculty that want to help solve some of the nation’s problems through research and it’s our job to let them know what those opportunities are, and to let members of Congress know how we can help.”
Texas A&M is a major research university, and a majority of funding for research flows from the federal government, with faculty competing for research grants from various agencies such as the NIH and NSF. The federal budget determines the money these agencies initially receive. Scott Sudduth, director of federal relations, said the team attempts to inform members of Congress of the impact research funding has on reality.
“A large part of our job is making the case for why they should invest in the research and development portfolio of the different agencies,” Sudduth said. “Research funding at the federal level doesn’t come from just one place. It comes from across the gamut of the federal agencies. There are some that have more, a bigger slice of the pie, such as the National Institutes of Health. There’s a lot of research in universities throughout the country from improving the equipment that men and women wear in battlefield to the technology in the airplanes. By far the majority of the research and the breakthroughs in those areas have come from university-based research funded by the federal government.”
As the Texas legislature only meets every two years, Government Relations must plan ahead in order to maximize the work they are able to do at the state level. State Relations director Sarah Hicks said Government Relations is working now to ensure that the next legislative session is a productive one.
“The legislature only has five months to write a budget that is going to affect the next two years,” Hicks said. “That’s not really a lot of time to absorb the information. So right now, we’re spending time with our schools, planning and talking to the presidents, and their talking to their folks about what do they think we need in fiscal year 2016 and 2017. We’re talking about what it is, how much money is it and what it would do. Then we’ll begin to meet with members’ staff about where we think we’re going. There’s so little time and so much going on in session, that if we don’t start on building those relationships and informing them now, then it’s lost.”
O’Quinn said even though Government Relations must juggle the many aspects involved with the federal and state governments, they work as a unit at the benefit of not just the College Station campus, but the entire system.
“One thing to remember is we operate as a team,” O’Quinn said. “Even though I’m in the president’s office on the A&M campus, we operate as a team through the Vice Chancellor for Government Relations and all the other A&M System components have Government Relations components, which makes a very coordinated effort.”
Williams said the team attempts to ensure government understanding of the impact their decisions have on the research taking place across the state.
“What we have to remind the legislature is that they’ve given us a mission,” Williams said. “We have to show them how the things we talk about fit into the mission they’ve handed to our university system. The federal dollars that come in for research have a tremendous impact on our state.”

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