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

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Interim President Welsh: A new path forward in Aggieland

Photo by Photo by Ishika Samant

Interim President Mark A. Welsh III stands for a photo in his office with a pile of boxes inside the Jack K. Administration Building on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2023.

On July 30, Gen. Mark A. Welsh III was approved to be the interim president of Texas A&M by the System Board of Regents. Welsh was appointed as acting president on July 21 following the resignation of former President M. Katherine Banks.
Welsh served as dean of the Bush School of Government & Public Service from May 2016 until this July. With his new position, Welsh brings a wealth of military service and leadership experience. Prior to serving as dean, Welsh was a four-star general and the U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff, serving on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Welsh commanded the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and served as associate director of military affairs at the CIA.
Welsh graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1976. However, Welsh has deep roots within Aggieland, which started with his father, Mark A. Welsh II, Class of 1946. Since he was 6 years old, Welsh frequently visited campus to attend A&M events and traditions, becoming immersed in the campus culture.
“Texas A&M just always stood for something,” Welsh said. “When I was 6 years old, I’m sure I didn’t quite comprehend the Core Values. [The Core Values] just stand for something that was strong, straightforward, patriotic [and] proud. Pride is a big thing.”
To him, A&M symbolizes patriotism, freedom, loyalty and honor.
“That’s what it meant to me when I was 6 years old,” Welsh said. “It still means those things to me now, and I’m way past 6.”
As a child, Welsh looked up to his father, an Air Force fighter pilot and an exceptional leader, but most importantly, was a proud Aggie who instilled his love of A&M into his children. Welsh has come to live his life by the Aggie Core Values, embracing the same pride of A&M. While in the military, Welsh interacted with many Aggies who all shared immense pride for the university.
“After a while, it’s hard to ignore that if there’s just this overarching feeling that something good is happening in College Station, Texas,” Welsh said. “That’s how I see A&M. It’s something really, really good.”
Welsh said part of the reason why A&M is distinguished from other universities is due to its student body, staff and faculty.
“[Students have] got the ability to come to a university that has a world-class faculty,” Welsh said. “They’ve got a staff that’s insanely loyal to the institution because they believe in it. They believe in you.”
Welsh said A&M’s faculty are hopeful and believe their students can make a change.
“You’re walking into a classroom with a world-class faculty who are going to give you an education that you’re not going to be anywhere else,” Welsh said. “You may have some places with a bigger name in a particular area, but you’re not going to get a better education than you’re going to get at [A&M].”
As president, Welsh wants to focus on creating meaningful communication across all levels of the institution. Welsh said his primary job right now is to listen.
Before the academic year begins, Welsh is completing a “listening tour,” meeting with dozens of student groups, staff organizations, professors and faculty to gather feedback.
“Leadership is a gift,” Welsh said. “It’s given by those who follow, and you have to work hard to be worthy of it.”
Welsh said the best thing about A&M is that the institution is always looking forward to improving and advancing. When problems in an institution occur, Welsh said the most important thing is to react properly.
“We made mistakes in the United States Air Force too,” Welsh said. “When we did, we acknowledged them, we figured out what to fix and we moved forward. That’s all you can do.”
Welsh said this approach to implementing problem-solving in large institutions like A&M heavily values communication.
“[Communication is] the key to a university being successful because we’ve got phenomenally intelligent and energetic and ambitious students,” Welsh said. “We’ve got a phenomenally intelligent faculty, and we’ve got phenomenally dedicated, smart, street-smart staff.”
Welsh acknowledged that the university has received immense national media attention due to multiple controversies.
In June, the prospective journalism director, Kathleen McElroy, announced she would be returning to the University of Texas after complications with her job offer; following these events, the College of Arts and Sciences interim dean, José Luis Bermúdez, stepped down on July 17. Only days later, former President M. Katherine Banks resigned and retired on July 21 due to media attention negatively affecting the university.
“I think it’s also a time to remind ourselves that these recent incidents, they don’t identify [A&M] as an institution,” Welsh said. “They will do that if we let it. That’s not who we are. That’s not who we’re going to be in. So let’s get back to doing things the right way all the time. Let’s get back to embracing our core values. Let’s get back to focusing on that mission of preparing [students] to go change the world.”
Welsh emphasized the importance of students, staff and faculty being involved in the conversation to help improve the university. 
“All of them need to be in the discussion,” Welsh said. “They need to be part of our solutions — they need to be — have their voice heard in what we do going forward.”
To incoming students, Welsh encouraged Aggies to value that they’re attending A&M and said the opportunities are unbelievable.

“The people you’re sitting in studying beside or hanging out with are world-class,” Welsh said. “They’re just unbelievably great people, and all of them have a kind of this look to the future. This is going to be good for everybody.
“Aggies, you’re gonna make this city better,” Welsh said. “They’re gonna make the state better. They’re gonna make the nation better. They’re gonna make the world better and be glad you’re part of that movement. There is no place that presents students more opportunity than this — or more fun, in my opinion.”
Welsh said the world needs Aggies that bring their brain, smile and energy to campus in College Station.
“Here’s where you develop your A-game and take it with you as you’re charged off campus at the end,” Welsh said.
To help achieve his vision for A&M, Welsh asked students to do one thing: “Be great at what you do, whatever that is.”

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  • Interim President Mark A. Welsh III shows his cardboard cutout of John Wayne he has carried through his career through the military and the university. 

  • Interim President Mark A. Welsh III shows a few of the challenge coins he collected through his career in the military in his office inside the Jack K. Administration Building on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2023.

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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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