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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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June 16, 2024

MGT’s mixed bag

Columnist+Sam+Somogye+breaks+down+the+report+delivered+to+President+Banks+by+MGT+Consulting.
Photo by Photo by William Nye

Columnist Sam Somogye breaks down the report delivered to President Banks by MGT Consulting.

Just two days ago, Texas A&M President M. Katherine Banks released a highly anticipated, comprehensive report from MGT of American Consulting, or MGT.
Like most things, there is some good and some bad.
Let’s start with the bad.
One of the biggest problems is the method MGT went about its survey process, specifically regarding the number of participants. The report claims to have invited approximately 500,000 people to respond to their survey. Of that 500,000, only 21,987 responded. The respondents are deans and vice presidents, current and former students, faculty and staff. Out of these groups, 75 percent of respondents were former students, while only eight percent were current students. Can I get a “skewed data,” anyone?
The fact of the matter is that former students are not nearly as in touch with what is currently going on at A&M when compared to its current students. After all, we are the ones who are in the classrooms, office hours and dimly-lit libraries across campus.
Another red flag of the report is when it discusses retention rates and faculty management. Specifically, the report states “a high internal staff turnover rate, a relatively small pool of qualified potential employees in Bryan-College Station and the recent increase in remote job offerings nationally spurred by [COVID-19] are [all] threats to retention.”
The part that sticks out the most here is “relatively small pool of qualified potential employees in Bryan-College Station.” This has to be a joke, right? Last spring semester alone — during a pandemic, no less — A&M shattered its graduation record, having 10,796 Aggies receive their degrees. In what world is this considered a small pool of qualified candidates?
The report also takes a shot at A&M’s lack of emphasis on journalism. It recommend starting a formal Department of Journalism, which is a good thing, but the report lacks any current recognition of A&M’s journalistic achievements. For example, the report boasts the University of Texas’ and the University of North Texas’ journalism departments. However, in the past year, The Battalion has received more awards from the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association and College Media Association than both of these schools. The Battalion may not currently be connected to any of A&M’s academic departments, but credit should be given where credit is due.
Lastly, MGT recommends that A&M “create parks and other outdoor gathering spaces to welcome the community onto campus for events throughout the year.” Apparently MGT didn’t notice, but an entire section of central campus is being torn apart to create a massive green space called, drum roll please, “Aggie Park.”
Now, on to the good.
The overall theme of this report is centralization, centralization, centralization. In fact, the word “central” can be found 124 times throughout the report. There are too many departments MGT recommends be centralized to fit into this column without risking reaching 132 pages like the report itself, so let’s just highlight the big ones.
First, MGT recommends that A&M combine its units into four main colleges: the College of Engineering, the College of AgriLife, Texas A&M Health and a new College of Arts and Sciences.
Typically, centralization is something not favored by this conservative writer. Nonetheless, the report makes valid points. Namely, communication among departments would likely improve and administrative costs would be cut down — both things that are hard to be against.
And because A&M is a STEM-focused university, consolidating liberal arts majors with STEM-based majors would give much needed advocacy to the arts. This in turn would likely attract more students to A&M who are interested in non-STEM related fields.
Second was the report’s evaluation of the Division of Student Affairs, specifically its relationship with Fish Camp. MGT finds that there is a “lack of control over the content of the camp” and that “the challenges of polarized politics have the potential to threaten Core Values.”
As many know, Fish Camp is nowhere near perfect, having run into a slew of issues in recent years. A little more oversight and direct involvement from the university regarding the freshman orientation camp and student-led organizations in general is certainly not the worst idea in the world.
This report has a lot of issues, but it’s not all bad. Although at the end of the day, the university needs to take into consideration student and faculty input over all else, not some outside organization.
One of A&M’s staple sayings is “from the outside looking in, you can’t understand it” for a reason.
Sam Somogye is a political science senior and columnist for The Battalion.

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