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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

The Northgate district right adjacent to the Texas A&M campus houses a street of bars and other restaurants.  
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Kennedy White, 19, sits for a portrait in the sweats she wore the night of her alleged assault inside the Y.M.C.A building that holds Texas A&M’s Title IX offices in College Station, Texas on Feb. 16, 2024 (Ishika Samant/The Battalion).
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Open forum recalibrates Vision 2020 strategy

University Provost Karan Watson leads the Vision 2020 forum Tuesday. The discussion centered on nine objectives that would improve student outcomes.
Sarah Lane — THE BATTALION University Provost Karan Watson leads the Vision 2020 forum Tuesday. The discussion centered on nine objectives that would improve student outcomes.

The Office of the Provost held the first of four open forums Tuesday aimed at developing a strategic plan for Texas A&M’s next five years as part of Vision 2020.
The forum, which took place in Rudder Tower, was open to all faculty and staff, and are also broadcast on TTVN to areas around College Station. Provost and Executive Vice President Karan Watson said this open nature is essential to developing an all-inclusive strategy.
“One of the most important things about a strategic plan is the planning,” Watson said. “When you get everybody involved you usually come out with better ideas of what you should do, and more people are ready to push on the plan when you do that. It is important to get their inputs and generate involvement so we can really surge forward.”
Nine strategic objectives were laid out for discussion at the forum, focused namely on improving student outcomes during their time at A&M and beyond as well as building a diverse student body.
Watson said Texas A&M graduates are highly sought after, and a large part of that is dependent on the experiences they have.
“[Students] already have a lot of service learning but we need to make sure they have the research learning,” Watson said. “We need to keep and grow the service learning, and we need to have international learning. The reason our students will be highly sought after and placed well is because we do highly impactful things, and not all of those are in the classroom.”
Watson said activities such as The Big Event and other A&M traditions aren’t benchmarked against other universities, but help to give Aggie graduates a strong, well-rounded education.
Career Center associate director for graduate student services Katie Stober said a concern for her is providing more avenues for students to secure internships and PhD opportunities.
“Employers come to me saying we don’t hire people who don’t have internships or PhD experience,” Stober said. “How can we increase the rate of subsequent placement and quality when it seems so many departments are focusing on academic placement only for their PhD students?”
Regents professor and Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon said he feels the current objectives align well with the university’s mission, but can go further.
“With what we have so far, I’d like to see — in addition to measuring the satisfaction of our students several years after graduation — satisfaction of their grad school professors and their employers,” Nielsen-Gammon said. “Those are the people who really find out how much the students learn and whether the grades they got match up with what they were able to accomplish during school.”
A popular issue at the forum was how the list of objectives could be given an authentic “Aggie touch.” Nielsen-Gammon said to some extent it already has.
“There’s going to be a layer beneath those objectives of how you’re going to do it,” Nielsen-Gammon said. “Certainly things like providing leadership opportunities and so forth are the sort of things that we think are the ‘Aggie way’ of helping students with future success.”
Watson said hosting three more forums will provide more opportunities for discussion and revision.
“I think what will happen is if we do this right we will have more discussions and decide if our strategy clearly shows that we are building upon what we’re already strong on,” Watson said. “I think a lot of people know some of the things they were talking about are going to be in the strategies, but maybe we need to elevate it so it’s clearer or higher up.”
The remaining forums will take place on Feb. 26, March 13 and April 1 and are open to all faculty and staff.

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