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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

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One step away
June 8, 2024

Opinion: A modest proposal

Photo by Graphic by Robert O’Brien

Opinion writer Caleb Elizondo explains the future in this satirical opinion piece.

In light of last year’s MGT Consulting report, Texas A&M is highly cognizant of ensuring the university is operating efficiently to best serve its students and expand plans of growth. In the words of A&M President M. Katherine Banks regarding the report, it’s time to plot “The Path Forward.”
The MGT report recommended we consolidate some of our colleges in order to “realign” academic emphases. While the ensuing dialogue has been productive, current recommendations lack a certain ambitiousness required to make A&M a top-tier academic institution. While we now plan on consolidating the colleges of Science, Geosciences and Liberal Arts, there is a lot of room for improvement upon this proposal. If anything, this merger does not go far enough, and bolder action is necessary to realize A&M’s objectives.
So, in the spirit of ensuring our school can achieve its aims of excellence and expansion, I would like to take a moment to put forth my own modest proposal that will more honestly reflect our institution’s goals and values. In order to accommodate new trends in growth and optimize institutional effectiveness, I propose we reorganize our university into only two colleges: the College of Engineering and the College of “Not Engineering.”
The College of Engineering would change little, and would be focused on improving current programs such as computer, mechanical and biomedical engineering in addition to the rest of the 22 undergraduate programs. The College of “Not Engineering,” in turn, would provide whatever else we offer at this institution.
Undertaking this endeavor will require an orderly model of transition. In order to achieve this aim, I recommend that the College of “Not Engineering” should be initially assembled from the colleges of Science, Geosciences and Liberal Arts. Every following year, however, the College of “Not Engineering” would be allowed to consume a college of its choice — provided it is not engineering, of course. The incorporated college should ideally not be involved in the decision, rather be notified at the last possible moment so as to joyfully surprise them.
After reflecting upon my proposition, I couldn’t help but feel that I was thinking too small. After all, reorganizing the bureaucracy can only do so much; what we are looking for is a complete reinvigoration of A&M as a bastion of learning.
After consulting with experts over a period of several months, it became clear a change in organization should also be reflected with a change in architecture. With less overhead and institutional overlap, this proposal provides an opportunity for development on campus as well. So, in order to seize the moment, we should replace nearly every building on campus with a replica of the Zachry Engineering Education Complex. Seeing as investments are best allocated to the College of Engineering, these new buildings would be used exclusively by engineering faculty and students.
After all, there is no more majestic scene on campus than the modern engineering structure. Gone are the days of attending classes within the crusty and forsaken halls of Heldenfels, Blocker or the Chemistry Building. Instead, we shall attend classes in opulent, glass encased rooms with technology embedded into every available crevice.
Some may grumble, “But if each building is for engineering students, where will everyone else hold classes?” I am sure there are basements somewhere with the ability to accommodate these students and faculty. Even if there are no such spaces, the absence of them should be seen as an opportunity, not a setback.
Freeing these “Not Engineering” students from the domain of the physical classroom will allow for them to better utilize the realm of virtual courses. In recent years during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made great strides within this field, and I’m sure these students wouldn’t mind returning to an online format.
While I anticipate receiving some pushback regarding my proposal, let it be known, my endeavor is intended to be value-neutral. Some, such as my colleague and foolish editor Caleb Powell, have argued against increased consolidation. According to Powell, maintaining our current system of colleges will foster communities and missions tailored to our student’s needs. Many other critics will likely accuse me of undervaluing our science and humanities programs and our students within them.
Let it be known that this notion is a false one.
I do not wish to chart A&M’s course, but rather ensure we can follow our current trajectory in a more effective manner. These recommendations are not indicative of my own principles, but rather our university’s current priorities.
If you are concerned about the state of the “Not Engineering” programs at A&M or value the unique community and opportunities your department provides, then I respectfully request that you direct your criticism not toward me, but toward President Banks instead.
Caleb Elizondo is an engineering freshman and opinion columnist for The Battalion.

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  •  Opinion writer Caleb Elizondo responds to current efforts to consolidate the colleges of Sciences, Geosciences and Liberal Arts at @TAMU with a proposal of his own.

    Photo by Photo by Ryan Hartfeil

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