Sharp Solutions: April 2014 Newsletter

 Chancellor John Sharp from The Texas A&M University System

Growing Impact

The Texas A&M University System, Texas A&M University, the Health Science Center and other system agencies in the Bryan-College Station area created a $4.42 billion positive economic impact on the local area in 2013, an increase of almost $113 million from 2012 and about double that of a decade ago.
Included in that record economic impact:

  • Annualized average payroll of approximately $889 million for 21,073 employees, including students;
  • Student expenditures of $494 million for food, housing, clothing, recreation and more, from a record enrollment of 50,000-plus on the College Station campus; and
  • Visitor expenditures of an estimated $385 million from Texas A&M athletic events and other campus activities, with an average stay in the community of 2.5 days.

Partnerships with the local cities and county will likely grow those numbers, particularly the enhancement and expansion of Kyle Field.

The A&M System also continues to rank first in the state in research investment. Research totals for Fiscal Year 2013 exceed a record $820 million according to the National Science Foundation. That research often leads to patents and licenses with significant, far-reaching economic benefits not included in local economic estimates.

Texas A&M University also now ranks among the nation’s top fundraising institutions in higher education, public or private, having raised a record $740 million-plus within the past year, over $300 million more than any previous 12-month period. This includes gifts, private grants and contributions to The Association of Former Students, the Texas A&M Foundation, the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation and the 12th Man Foundation. This historic level of support is attributed to the university attracting record numbers of highly qualified students. The institution’s successful entry in the Southeastern Conference is also a factor, along with more Texas A&M graduates reaching career stages where they are able to make larger gifts to their alma mater.
This growing impact, in the local community, in research and in giving back to the next generation of learners, is a testament to the loyalty of our graduates and their respect for all that being an Aggie represents.
Gig ‘em!

Harnessing Big DataThe Texas A&M University System and IBM will leverage the power of big data analytics and high-performance computing for collaborative research dedicated to advances in agriculture, geosciences and engineering. This partnership brings together the best computer scientists and technology in the world to focus on practical solutions to global challenges, such as improving extraction of Earth-based energy resources, facilitating the smart energy grid, accelerating materials development, improving disease identification and tracking in animals and fostering better understanding and monitoring of our global food supplies.IBM will provide the Blue Gene/Q technology, Power and System X servers and General Parallel File Systems Storage Systems. A test of the Blue Gene/Q on campus found that it ran a material sciences problem that previously took weeks to solve in just minutes with much greater analytical depth.

Locking in Tuition

Beginning in the fall of 2014, incoming undergraduate freshman to Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University at Galveston and the Texas A&M Health Science Center will be offered a single, fixed rate tuition through year four or five, depending on their degree plan and major. This also consolidates all student fees with the locked-in rate. While Texas A&M has historically offered very affordable tuition rates and is less expensive today than many other public, state universities in Texas, this rate guarantee will help students and parents to budget for college and the university to make future decisions based on fixed revenue.

Expanding in Houston

ExpandingInHoustonThe Houston campus of the Texas A&M Health Science Center will be expanding in the Texas Medical Center area with future construction of a multidisciplinary research and education building on 2.5 acres adjacent to the TAMHSC Institute for Biosciences and Technology, a research institute that excels at translation innovative discoveries into clinical practice for the benefit of patients.
The Houston expansion will enable even more collaborative research with other acclaimed Texas Medical Center institutions, especially in TAMHSC’s areas of excellence, such as environmental health, cancer prevention through natural products and infectious diseases. The expansion will also provide highly needed educational space for Texas A&M’s medical students and aspiring clinician scientists.

Become involved, join the Chancellor’s Century Council

The Chancellor’s Century Council is a group of individuals interested in the future of Texas higher education who provide the chancellor a means to advance the goals and objectives of The Texas A&M University System. Members participate in various A&M System activities across the state and throughout the nation. There are varying membership levels available.Find out how to join.

The “Sharp’s Solutions” email newsletter is published monthly by the Office of the Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System to inform community and business leaders of the various initiatives of Chancellor John Sharp.

Sharp Solutions: October/November 2013 Newsletter

Chancellor John Sharp from The Texas A&M University System

The Momentum Continues

I am pleased to forward two more pieces of great news concerning Texas A&M University and The Texas A&M University System — one of which has been near and dear to my heart for a long time.

Today, I joined Gov. Rick Perry, President of Israel, Shimon Peres, Israel Minister of Education, Shay Piron, and other key education and administration officials to formally announce that the Texas A&M System has signed an agreement with the State of Israel to open the first comprehensive university of the first class in Israel.

This is one of the most memorable occasions of my career in public service. It is an opportunity for education to lead the way to peace, and one that we are honored to be a part of. If not for the hard work of many, Texas A&M University at Nazareth – Peace Campus would not be a reality. I’d like to thank Gov. Perry and the Texas A&M System Board of Regents for their support in making this dream come true, and look forward to our continued work with President Peres and Minister Piron.

From left to right: Dr. Avital Stein, Chancellor John Sharp, Israel Minister of Education, Shay Piron, President Shimon Peres, Gov. Rick Perry, and Professor Manuel Trajtenberg.

Secondly, as you know, our former students are known to distinguish themselves in companies wherever they live and work. I know this to be true as well, but the London-based Times Higher Education, has now produced the listing, “Alma Mater Index: Global Executives,” that verifies Aggies are some of the best leaders in the world. That study identifies Texas A&M as having the most global CEOs among any public university in the United States. This is truly a sign of excellence that is nurtured through an education at Texas A&M.

It is certainly a great time to be an Aggie! Gig ‘em!

John Sharp

Underlined text are links to additional information online.

Sharp Solutions: September 2013 Newsletter

Chancellor John Sharp from The Texas A&M University System

Boosting National Ranking

The fervor surrounding Texas A&M University reached a high pitch this weekend with the most anticipated college football game of the 2013 season. No longer a freshman in the Southeastern Conference, we’ve shown we’re capable of capturing and holding the attention of the nation, and Texas A&M is now gaining widespread recognition for its excellence in academics and world-class research.

This elevated awareness has helped Texas A&M join the ranks of the nation’s top fundraising institutions in higher education — public or private — with a record $740 million-plus raised within the past year, outpacing every university in the state and most in the nation.

The record results are due in large part to an influx of significant gifts from individuals and corporate donors investing in academics and research, including $31 million for construction of a new engineering complex, part of the 25 by 25 initiative, which aims to enroll 25,000 engineering students by 2025; $20 million to support the George P. and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy; and $205 million in estate gift commitments.

This outpouring of private support for Texas A&M reflects a deep commitment to the value of higher education and is the result of the loyalty and respect the university has fostered since its establishment in 1871. I couldn’t be more proud to be an Aggie — Gig ‘em!

Structuring Status

With the merger of Texas A&M Health Science Center with Texas A&M now complete, President R. Bowen Loftin has announced that Dr. Brett Giroir, currently my vice chancellor of strategic initiatives for The Texas A&M University System, will serve as interim executive vice president for TAMHSC, effective Oct. 1, 2013.

An internationally renowned physician-scientist whose work has focused on life-threatening infectious diseases, Dr. Giroir led our efforts to secure the $285.6 million government contract from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, better known as the BARDA project, to develop the Texas A&M Center for Innovation in Advanced Development & Manufacturing and enhance the nation’s emergency preparedness against emerging infectious diseases and other threats.

In conjunction with Dr. Giroir’s move, I have transferred the administration of the BARDA project and the Center for Innovation to TAMHSC. This ensures that all research expenditures associated with the project will contribute to Texas A&M’s national research rankings and dramatically raise the research status of TAMHSC.

TAMHSC’s consolidation with Texas A&M immediately provides a 10 percent increase in the university’s research expenditures. And as the BARDA project unfolds, this move has the potential to propel Texas A&M Health Science Center from a fourth-tier to a second-tier research institution, roughly the equivalent of the long-established University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

I know there was some controversy when I first spoke of moving the Health Science Center to Texas A&M, but I hope that it is now clear how this greatly benefits not only the university, but TAMHSC as well, enabling further collaboration and the integration of academic disciplines required for innovation and new life-saving discoveries.

Conserving Wildlife Habitats with Prescribed BurnsTexas A&M Forest Service aids in the maintenance of a healthy ecosystem with a diversity of plants and trees and improved wildlife habitats through prescribed burns, the carefully planned and deliberate use of fire as a land management and conservation tool. See how prescribed burns actually protected some parts of Bastrop State Park from the devastating wildfires of 2011 in this video, “A Land in Balance: Benefits of a Prescribed Burn.”Conserving Wildlife Habitats with Prescribed Burns



Developing Shale Sustainability

The Board of Regents also recently approved Texas A&M University-Kingsville’s Eagle Ford Center for Research, Education and Outreach (EFCREO), housed in the Frank H. Dotterweich College of Engineering. Bringing together industry and local communities, the Center will help make the Eagle Ford Shale play as sustainable as possible in terms of technological improvements, environmental protection, the social fabric of the affected communities and the overall economic development of the region. EFCREO also will provide students with research opportunities, preparing them for careers in fields associated with the natural gas play and unconventional oil/gas production. The Eagle Ford Shale activity is projected to continue for the next 40-70 years; continuing development will require a skilled workforce. The Center will begin offering short training classes beginning in November to professionals in the field seeking to expand their skill set.

Improving the Health of Animals and Humans

The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents recently approved a new Center for Bioinformatics and Genomics Systems Engineering on the campus of Texas A&M Universityin College Station. A joint project of Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, the center leverages Texas A&M’s strengths in contemporary engineering systems theory and life sciences, translating the mathematical formulation of molecular-level medicine into diagnostic and therapeutic applications for human and animal health. In addition to the development of improved food and fiber around the globe, the center will train doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers, enrolling between 25 and 30 students within the next two years. Read more here.

Offering Firsthand Media Mentoring

Univision, the first Spanish-language broadcast television network in the United States, has signed a multi-year lease for space at Texas A&M University-San Antonio’s Educational & Cultural Arts Center. The agreement offers Univision an important presence in the downtown San Antonio area, while A&M-San Antonio communications students will also benefit firsthand from the mentorship of journalism professionals who work at an award-winning, community-oriented newsroom such as KWEX-TV. Univision has a long-standing commitment to educational initiatives and the San Antonio area having also just announced the opening of new, state-of-the-art facilities in north San Antonio.Educational & Cultural Arts Center

Become involved, join the Chancellor’s Century Council

The Chancellor’s Century Council is a group of individuals interested in the future of Texas higher education who provide the chancellor a means to advance the goals and objectives of The Texas A&M University System. Members participate in various A&M System activities across the state and throughout the nation. There are varying membership levels available. Find out how to join.


The “Sharp’s Solutions” email newsletter is published monthly by the Office of the Chancellor to inform community and business leaders of the various initiatives of The Texas A&M University System.

Sharp Solutions: July 2013 Newsletter

Chancellor John Sharp from The Texas A&M University System

Serving Those Who Serve

Aggies have always answered the call, in times of war and in times of peace. The medals we award those who serve are but tokens of our gratitude. It is the service we give them and their families in return that is our sacred duty. This has been at the core of The Texas A&M University System since our land grant flagship in College Station was created in 1876. That is why I’m pleased to share with you the latest news on four veteran’s initiatives underway throughout the Texas A&M System.

  • Together with Operation College Promise (OCP), a national policy, research and education program supporting the transition and postsecondary advancement of our nation’s veterans, we have launched the Veterans Education Support Network. The project expands the A&M System’s extensive Military Friendly Listserv, adding as many as 500 professionals in higher education and the non-profit sector from about 30 states, to become the nation’s largest interactive network of higher education veterans’ support specialists. The project was initially intended for A&M System members when first introduced in 2010, but rapidly expanded to include more than 325 participants from institutions of higher learning as well as a variety of local, state and federal agencies. It is the only Listserv of its kind directed primarily to those who provide front-line support to student veterans and is frequently used by government agencies to share information directly with the higher education community. The new national partnership with OCP will exponentially increase the power of communications on behalf of America’s student veterans, military personnel and their families wherever they study, live or are deployed.For more on the project, read here.
  • To also show our dedication to America’s heroes and their families, to show “we have their back,” the A&M System participates in the national “Got Your 6″ campaign, a coalition of nonprofit service groups, Hollywood celebrities and industry leaders working together to “bridge the civilian-military divide” and enhance support for America’s military and veterans and their families. Our eleven universities were among the first 50 institutions to sign the Got Your 6 Education Pillar pledge of support for veterans. Watch the A&M System’s “Got Your 6 in Texas” video here.
  • Our nationally recognized Veterans Support Office has completed Best Practices Assessment Visits to all A&M System universities as a way to measure and enhance veterans support services across our academic campuses. We’ve now shared the assessment methodology with the Texas Veterans Commission to assist in a new statewide program aimed at measuring and improving veterans services at all universities and colleges in Texas.
  • And, through our close work with the Texas Legislature this session, $30 million in immediate state relief funds were approved for the Hazlewood Program, which is critical in helping servicemen and women and their dependents access quality education. Texas A&M University is expected to bring in about $7 million of these funds. An endowment is also being created by the state and managed by the state Comptroller to help offset future costs of the Hazlewood Act. The program will also be transferred to the Texas Veterans Commission — an agency with which our Veterans Support Office works closely.

At the Texas A&M System, serving those who serve is an ongoing mission.

Biomedical Leaders Emerge

After much planning and coordination, the Texas A&M Health Science Center is now officially part of Texas A&M University, merging two leaders in biomedical education and research for a more collaborative and competitive position nationwide. I requested the move and it was initially authorized in August 2012 by the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents. Complete execution of the transition is slated over the next 12 months with no plans to move or close any campuses or programs. You can find more details about the merger here.Health Science Center

Gulf Guardians AwardGulf Guardians AwardThe Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi has been recognized by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency with a Gulf Guardian Award for its work on an international reseach project. “Gulf 360: State of the Gulf of Mexico” is a collaborative effort involving Cuba, Mexico and the five Gulf states of the United States, highlighting similarities and differences as well as the natural and socioeconomic connections shared by people and nations of the Gulf. Read here for more on the team’s work and recognition.


Tops in Texas

Texas A&M University-Commerce is ranked No. 1 in the Online College Database’s list of“Top U.S. Colleges & Universities for Teaching Education.” A&M-Commerce was the only institution chosen from the state of Texas and was ranked No. 13 in the nation. “Since the earliest days of East Texas Normal College, teacher preparation has been a core element of our university’s mission. To be ranked as one of the best universities in the nation in preparing students for this critically important and noble profession is a testament to the tremendous dedication and excellence of our faculty,” said Dr. Dan R. Jones, president of A&M-Commerce. Read more about the ranking here.

Easier for Einstein

A bachelor of science degree in physics just became more accessible and affordable thanks to the new Texas Physics Consortium, approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The program offers considerable costs savings and expands access to underserved student populations by combining the faculty and resources of Tarleton State University, West Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, A&M-Corpus Christi, Prairie View A&M University, Texas Southern University and Midwestern State University. Traditional in-classroom course work and interactive online video classes will be offered for students pursuing a physics degree or enrolled in a secondary math/physics teacher certification program. Find more information here on the Texas Physics Consortium.

In-Demand Degrees

The work done by students at WTAMU School of Engineering and Computer Science is more than theoretical. Hands-on research prepares students for in-demand jobs in the real world. See how below.

 WTAMU School of Engineering and Computer ScienceBecome involved, join the Chancellor’s Century Council

The Chancellor’s Century Council is a group of individuals interested in the future of Texas higher education who provide the chancellor a means to advance the goals and objectives of The Texas A&M University System. Members participate in various A&M System activities across the state and throughout the nation. There are varying membership levels available. Find out how to join.


The “Sharp’s Solutions” email newsletter is published monthly by the Office of the Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System to inform community and business leaders of the various initiatives of Chancellor John Sharp.

Sharp Solutions: June 2013 Newsletter

Chancellor John Sharp from The Texas A&M University System

Howdy Grows Bigger

Education and innovation know no bounds in The Texas A&M University System. We are continuing to grow in influence — across the state, the nation and the world.

The 83rd regular session of the Texas Legislature culminated in the A&M System securing critical funding for many priorities, thanks to many long hours worked by staff and support of Gov. Perry, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, Speaker Straus and members of the Legislature.

Though as of this date it seems unlikely tuition revenue bonds for still much-needed renovations, repairs and new construction will be added to the special legislative session agenda, I am pleased with the investment in higher education approved, including:

  • $142 million more in financial aid for students at general academic institutions statewide
  • Restoration of nearly $120 million in TEXAS Grants, further aiding Texas students
  • Over $59 million more in funding for Texas A&M System member universities
  • $52 million more than last biennium for Texas A&M agriculture programs and $15 million more for Texas A&M engineering programs
  • Over $44 million in formula funding for the Texas A&M Health Science Center
  • $11 million for general institutional enhancements at A&M System regional universities
  • And added funding for the state’s Competitive Knowledge Fund and the Hazlewood veterans tuition program.

We also received approval for use of Brazos County Hotel Occupancy Tax for the redevelopment of Kyle Field, and for the A&M System Board of Regents to lease land for renovation of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Corps of Cadets dorms on the main campus of Texas A&M.

I extend my thanks to all who have worked so hard to promote education excellence throughout the A&M System. A more complete list of these legislative accomplishments and more can be found here.

John Sharp

Google It: Innovation

One reward for all that hard work mentioned above can be seen in our groundbreaking new agreement with Google and Motorola’s Mobility Advanced Technology and Projects. This partnership will accelerate the overall pace of innovation, dramatically streamlining the generation of new joint research projects and paving the way for more rapid commercialization of fundamental new technologies. Texas A&M University is in good company with other premier U.S. research university partners, including Harvard University, California Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Virginia Tech. We believe this is one of the first collaborations of its kind with a real focus on fast tracking discovery to consumers for greater benefit, and it could be the national model upon which companies and universities collaborate in the future. Our selection once again proves Texas A&M is one of the premier research universities in America. More details on this partnership can be found here.

Solar Warriors Powered Up

Solar Warriors Powered UpIn another innovative, potentially market-changing scientific and educational collaboration,Texas A&M University-Central Texas, “Home of the Warriors” and one of the youngest A&M System members, will soon help meet all the energy needs of the campus and 20,000 homes in the Killeen area through the new Center for Solar Energy developed in partnership with PPA Partners, a leading solar development company headquartered in California. The largest solar test site in the world, the new center in Killeen will be an incubation program to develop early-stage technologies in solar power with the goal of attracting capital investors and bringing those technologies to the marketplace within two years. The center will create unmatched educational opportunities for students at A&M-Central Texas as well as cleantech jobs, new businesses and substantial additional revenues for the region. Read more on this innovative partnership here.



Maroon Grows Greener: Wind Energy Harnessed

Ground was broken in a ceremony earlier this month by West Texas A&M University for a large-scale wind-turbine testing facility in the Texas Panhandle. The green-energy project, located on 60 acres of school land just seven miles east of Canyon, is part of a five-year contract with an Underwriters Laboratories unit, The DEWI Group, for a testing facility that will also include research and design work. The UL/WTAMU Advanced Wind Turbine Test Facility, one of the largest in the world, will build on the university’s more than 40 years of experience with wind energy and turbines says Don Toplofty, dean of the College of Agriculture, Science and Engineering at WTAMU. About 2,400 acres near the new facility will also be available for development and growth. Read more here.

TEEX Delivers MOST: Job Training On-Site

TEEX Delivers MOST: Job Training On-SiteA partnership between Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service and M.O.S.T. delivers an intense, fast-paced and customized selection, training and placement program for welders, computer numerically controlled operators, machine operators and maintenance technicians with an on-site mobile training unit for companies seeking new skilled and job-ready employees.

Become involved, join the Chancellor’s Century Council

The Chancellor’s Century Council is a group of individuals interested in the future of Texas higher education who provide the chancellor a means to advance the goals and objectives of The Texas A&M University System. Members participate in various A&M System activities across the state and throughout the nation. There are varying membership levels available. Find out how to join.

The “Sharp’s Solutions” email newsletter is published monthly by the Office of the Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System to inform community and business leaders of the various initiatives of Chancellor John Sharp.

Increasing Excellence: Texas A&M System Accomplishments in the 83rd Session

As you know, every odd-numbered year the Texas Legislature convenes for 140 days. During this time, The Texas A&M University System identifies funding priorities and focuses on measures that support its member institutions, student success and retention, graduation rates and financial resources for faculty, institutions and student financial aid.

The Texas A&M System had its strongest showing in decades during the 83rd regular session. Our staff worked long days and long weeks, communicating the benefits, needs and importance of our member institutions to the Texas Legislature. As such, the regular session culminated in the A&M System securing six of its seven funding priorities.

We sought to enhance the operations of our campuses and the opportunities for students, faculty and staff across our universities and agencies by focusing on increasing formula funding, research funds, financial aid and agency appropriations. Additionally, we sought funding for student support initiatives, the Hazlewood program and the much-publicized tuition revenue bonds.

Member Achievements Awaiting Gov. Perry’s Approval

  • Texas A&M University can now build new corps dorms. With the passage of HB 2892 by Rep. John Raney and sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Glenn Hegar, the A&M System Board of Regents may now lease land on the main campus. This bill was critical for the school to renovate the dorms for the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Corps of Cadets.
  • HB 3296, also by Rep. Raney and sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Charles Schwertner, passed. This bill provides additional funding from the Brazos County Hotel Occupancy Tax for the redevelopment of Kyle Field. We appreciate the partnership with the cities and county, and together we look forward to the renovated home of the 12th Man.
  • Texas A&M University-Texarkana and Prairie View A&M University can boast about their future athletic programs, which will be enhanced by the passage of SB 691 by Sen. Kevin Eltife and SB 1145 by Sen. Hegar, both of which put into place the student-approved increases in athletic fees. This funding will increase the level of athletic excellence in our schools, raising student morale and application rates, among other benefits.
  • For over four years, the A&M System has worked to gain access to the Research Development Fund for PVAMU, which supports increased research capacity at eligible institutions. This goal was reached this session with the passage of HB 870 by Rep. Cecil Bell and sponsored by Sen. Hegar. Beginning in 2016, PVAMU will have access to just over $1 million every biennium from this fund, an important compliment to the Chancellor’s Research Initiative funding for the recruitment and hiring of faculty. PVAMU also saw an increase of $2.5 million in the Academic Development Initiative (ADI). This funding allows for an increased number of faculty positions and course offerings.
  • Texas A&M University at Galveston will receive $100,000 each fiscal year for diagnostic testing on oysters for diseases that are transmitted through the consumption of oysters.
  • A&M System universities received new special item funding, including $200,000 for Texas A&M University-Kingsville’s Citrus Center and $1.5 million for their vet tech program, and $1.6 million for Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s engineering program.
  • The Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory received $6 million for debt service to construct a new $50+ million facility to continue operating in support of the livestock, companion animal and public health industries, remain on the cutting edge of veterinary diagnostics and advance diagnostic research, and serve as the backbone of a state, national and global public health biosurveillance system. As such, the A&M System and TVMDL will continue attracting the most highly-sought after experts in agriculture, animal and public health science and bio-security.
  • In total, our agencies received significant increases in funding — Texas A&M agriculture programs received over $52 million more than last biennium and our engineering programs over $15 million more. This funding provides $3 million to Texas A&M AgriLife Research for water resource management, in collaboration with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station. Additionally, the Texas A&M Forest Service will receive $27.2 million for the wildfire protection plan (heavy equipment and firefighters). AgriLife Extension will receive $2 million for research and education activities related to reversing quail decline, TEES will receive $3 million for a pilot project on power lines and wildfire prevention, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute will be provided $6 million to act as legislative resource support on transportation issues, and $1.5 million will go to the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service for rural fire fighter training. TFS will be reimbursed $161 million for wildfire costs. This is all in addition to other appropriations.

In addition to individual campus and agency successes, the A&M System worked arduously on behalf of higher education across the entire state.

Financial Resources

  • Formula funding: The A&M System worked with the legislature to prioritize base funding for institutions. The Legislature added over $59 million to formula funding for our universities, as well as over $44 million in formula funding for the Texas A&M Health Science Center. Texas A&M University saw the biggest increase of all our universities—$26.4 million more than the previous biennium.
  • Institutional enhancement: The Texas Legislature appropriated an additional $11 million for general institutional enhancements at our regional universities. For many of our institutions, this source of funding helps support faculty salaries and our student success programs through the new EmpowerU initiative.
  • Financial aid: A&M System institutions already have some of the lowest tuition costs in the state, and our members work hard to keep college affordable. The Legislature provided $142 million more in financial aid for students at general academic institutions statewide. The Legislature also restored nearly $120 million in TEXAS Grants, further aiding Texas students.
  • Hazlewood: The A&M System prides itself on being a military-friendly system. Our Veterans Support Office is nationally renowned and our TexVet office is leading the country in innovative veteran support. The Hazlewood program is critical in helping servicemen and women and their dependents access quality education. This session, we worked diligently to communicate with the Legislature about how to make this program more sustainable, ensuring that our military members can continue to access it. The result is $30 million in immediate state relief funds, of which our flagship in College Station is expected to bring in about $7 million. An endowment is also being created by the state and managed by the Comptroller, to help offset future costs of the Hazlewood Act. The program will also be transferred to the Texas Veterans Commission – an agency with which our Veterans Support Office has previously worked.
  • Competitive Knowledge Fund: The Competitive Knowledge Fund is a critical research fund that supports faculty, instructional excellence and research at eligible institutions in Texas. This year, the Legislature added $50.7 million to the fund, of which, Texas A&M University will receive $18.9 million in new funding.

More to be Done
As you read this, we continue working to secure tuition revenue bonds for our campuses. This money is needed for our campuses to keep up with our growing universities or to make much-needed renovations and repairs. The following projects are at stake:

Texas A&M University:
New Biocontainment Research facility
New Music Facility

Tarleton State University:
New Gates Agriculture and Business Building
Midlothian Higher Education Center

Texas A&M International University:
Library renovation and additional instructional and support space
Addition to science center

Texas A&M University-Central Texas:
New health, science, and wellness building

Texas A&M University-Commerce:
New library and technology center

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi:
New life sciences research building

Texas A&M University-Kingsville:
Music building expansion and renovation to Jones Auditorium

Texas A&M University-San Antonio:
New science and technology building
New central and physical plant

Texas A&M University-Texarkana:
New academic and laboratory learning center

Texas A&M University-Galveston:
New academic building

Prairie View A&M University:
Capital renewal

West Texas A&M University:
New Amarillo center

Texas A&M Health Science Center:
New education center and research building in Dallas
New facilities in Round Rock
New research building in Temple

Promoting University Excellence
On behalf of the A&M System, I extend my thanks to Gov. Perry, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, Speaker Straus and members of the Legislature for their support of higher education and the Texas A&M University System. I believe that many steps were taken over the past 140 days to promote university excellence throughout our universities and other systems and institutions of higher education across the state.

John Sharp

Key Texas A&M System Funding Priorities for the 83rd Legislature

Base/ Formula Funding:  Our highest priority is additional funding for the basic, on-going operations of our general academic institutions, health science center and agencies through the formulas.   The formula funding ensures that our institutions can provide high quality teaching and support services for our growing student populations to prepare them for the workforce.

Tuition Revenue Bonds:  While we are maximizing the use of our existing facilities and expanding online course offerings, the demand for new classrooms, labs and technologies continues to increase.  Additional funding for new facilities and technology is critical in preparing students to compete in a knowledge-based economy. Unfortunately, the state has not been able to provide any additional TRB support since 2006.  With the current low interest rates and construction costs, this is an ideal time to invest in higher education facilities.  We request authorization for our institutions’ tuition revenue bond requests in order to meet the needs of our students and the state.

EmpowerU:  System-wide Student Success Initiative:  University graduates fuel the economic and social growth of the state, and the Texas A&M University System is committed to assuring its students progress to be successful, work-ready graduates.  However, students come to Texas A&M University System institutions with varied and significant needs, creating obstacles to that success.  Collectively, the student success initiatives of the A&M System target challenges faced by our students.  The A&M System requested funding will allow us to not only implement and expand these student success initiatives, but equally important to also track and account for their progress through EmpowerU.

Competitive Knowledge Fund:  The Competitive Knowledge Fund is a key performance-based formula initiative that helps Texas A&M hire and retain high-achieving faculty for teaching and research.  Last session, the Legislature was able to fund the formula so that eligible institutions received $700,000 per $10 million in total research expenditures—a reduction from $1 million for every $10 million in total research expenditures. We request that the Competitive Knowledge Fund formula be funded to provide $1 million for every $10 million in total research expenditures for each qualified institution.

Support for A&M Agencies:  Our A&M Agencies need base funding support much in the same manner as the formulas that provide basic, on-going support for the academics and health related institutions.  Additionally, the A&M Agencies have a number of exceptional items that address a broad range of state needs:  infrastructure (transportation and water), emergency response, and public and animal health.

Student Financial Aid:  Increased support for student financial aid is vitally important for our students and families, and we support increased funding for state financial aid programs, especially TEXAS Grants.

Hazlewood:  The existing Hazlewood exemption and the expanded Hazlewood Act, which provides tuition exemptions for the dependents of military veterans, have dramatically increased since 2009.  We believe this worthwhile expense is an obligation of the state, rather than an expense to be transferred and absorbed through other students’ tuition and fee payments.

Sharp Solutions: Filling the Higher Education Gap in Texas

An investment in our higher education system is an investment in our economy, benefiting our students, our state and the nation. But the facts are clear. There is a higher education gap in Texas that must be filled.

The unemployment rate today for adults with only a high school diploma is more than double the rate for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher. And those with a bachelor’s degree can expect to earn 84 percent more on average over their lifetime. But between now and 2018, Texas will need to fill about 4 million jobs of which more than 2 million will require college credentials. Yet only 31.4 percent of Texans age 25 and older have completed an associate’s degree or higher.

The future demands more from all of us. We must work harder to provide affordable degree plans offering the academic preparation, and career and technology training that employers demand and that students need for economic opportunity.

There is good news for Texas: enrollment is up at both two- and four-year public colleges and universities. In fact, enrollment in Texas community colleges has increased almost 30 percent since the start of the recession in 2008.

We are making progress, but obstacles still exist in Texas higher education. Young Hispanics continue to be underrepresented, economically disadvantaged high school graduates are less likely to enroll in college, and four-year college completion rates lag.

Virtually every university in Texas and across the nation is looking for new ways to deliver more value and to ensure multiple pathways to learning. There is no one-size-fits-all system of higher education, but The Texas A&M University System is leading the way with innovative and collaborative methods to control costs while improving the quality of education provided.

Though a unique partnership of Texas A&M System colleges and area community colleges, three new affordable degree programs will be offered beginning at $9,800. These programs include a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Tarleton State University, a Bachelor of Applied Sciences in organizational leadership offered through a partnership of Texas A&M University–Commerce and South Texas College, and a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in information technology with an emphasis on information security offered through Texas A&M University–San Antonio and Alamo Colleges.

These new degree programs target the needs of employers while leveraging the resources of each partnering college to create seamless pathways to an affordable degree. Success will be measured by the value created in terms of economic opportunities for our students and our state. And these degree programs are only the first of many steps.

As public educators, we have accountability to students, parents, taxpayers and employers. Higher education must be focused on accessibility, affordability and adaptability to fill the gap. The openness to new ideas starts at the top with administrators and flows down to individual students and classrooms. At the Texas A&M System, we are listening.

The Texas A&M System has enormous potential to achieve sustained greatness as one of the premier public university systems in the nation — and in the world. Our flagship, Texas A&M University, already stands among the nation’s top research universities for total research expenditures and is the only Texas institution of higher education listed in the National Science Foundation’s top 20.

It is our mission to expand that reputation and deliver the most accessible, the most affordable and the most adaptable higher education solutions to meet the needs of Texas students and employers for years to come.