Chancellor Sharp tours TVMDL facility in College Station

Chancellor Sharp vistis TVMDL

Chancellor John Sharp listens as TVMDL Director Tammy Beckham (left) explains how the laboratory detects and diagnoses animal diseases. Also from left are Mark Hussey, vice chancellor for agriculture and life sciences; Joe Cox, assistant vice chancellor for external relations; and Jordan Brod, TVMDL operations manager.

Chancellor John Sharp took his first tour of the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) on June 15. The chancellor was updated on the vital work that TVMDL conducts every day to protect livestock, poultry and wildlife as well as companion, racing and exotic animals.

Director Tammy Beckham conducted the tour of College Station laboratory, one of four TVMDL operates across the state. Sharp saw the College Station lab’s high-containment unit, one of only two in Texas designed specifically for animal diseases that pose significant threats to public health or the agriculture economy. The other unit is housed at TVMDL’s Amarillo location.

He also visited the lab’s sections for bateriology, necropsy, drug testing, and specimen receiving.

“We truly appreciate the chancellor’s visit,” Beckham said. “It gave us the opportunity to discuss TVMDL’s role in protecting animal health, human health and the nation’s food supply, and in advancing the One Health approach to the health of people, animals and the environment.”

TVMDL tests hundreds of animal specimens from around the world every business day. The lab primarily serves veterinarians, owners, government agencies at the state and federal levels, and the state’s animal agricultural industries.

Chancellor witnesses TTI test on security barrier that could thwart terrorist attacks

M. Katherine Banks (left) and Chancellor John Sharp watched researchers test a new security barrier design at TTI's Proving Grounds in Bryan.

Chancellor John Sharp and Texas A&M System Vice Chancellor and Dean of Engineering M. Katherine Banks were among the first to witness tests on a potential new physical security barrier—historically known as a “ha-ha wall”— at the Texas Transportation Institute Proving Grounds in Bryan. The test, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, is a part of the department’s comprehensive effort to protect the public from potential terror threats.

TTI researchers rammed a 15,000-pound medium-duty truck traveling 50 miles per hour into the wall at an 11-degree down angle.  It stopped just beyond a meter of the face of the wall, which was deemed a success and worthy of further testing to perfect the design for the marketplace.

The test wall, which was designed by TTI researchers and built by an outside contractor, is the newest physical security barrier to be evaluated by the Institute.  Ha-ha walls were a landscaping retaining wall feature built in the 17th and 18th centuries on English country estates, according to the BBC’s website.  They typically formed a boundary between the estate’s gardens and grounds and were constructed to be invisible from the house, ensuring a clear view across the estate and providing an effective barrier to livestock.

“We thought that this long-established landscape architecture feature might provide a more attractive alternative to some of the other types of barriers currently used to keep embassies and other public buildings safe from terrorists,” said TTI Engineering Research Associate Dusty Arrington.

“We modified the historical design of the wall and optimized it for the medium-duty impact vehicle,” Arrington said.  “Now we will build additional models and test them at different angles and heights to develop the most efficient ha-ha design methodology.  The objective is to develop a design that will provide field engineers all of the information they need to design a ha-ha for a given threat vehicle traveling at a given speed and angle.”

“This test is part of our overall program to develop a whole range of security barriers that can be used to protect the perimeters of our embassies and other vulnerable buildings from terror attacks,” said Russell Norris, research and development program manager for the Department of State.

Chancellor Sharp celebrates dedication of first building on A&M-Central Texas campus

Chancellor John Sharp at TAMUCT

Chancellor John Sharp addresses the audience at A&M-Central Texas.

Chancellor Sharp was in Killeen May 24 to celebrate the dedication of Founder’s Hall, the first building to open on Texas A&M University-Central Texas’ new campus.

After the dedication ceremony, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for a second building, which will house the university library, counseling center, career services, School of Education, social work program, distributed learning and instructional technology, and will provide additional classroom and laboratory space.

A&M-Central Texas’ new campus is located on 662 acres of land that was transferred to The Texas A&M University System from the U.S. Army. Before becoming an independent university in 2009, A&M-Central Texas was a system center of Tarleton State University.

Enrollment in the young university continues to grow, and 40 percent of the student population are members of the military or spouses of active duty soldiers. A&M-Central Texas has close relationship with nearby Fort Hood, and is one of only eight universities in the country to offer the VetSuccess on Campus program, which helps student-veterans transition into college life.

Chancellor Sharp Addresses New A&M System Graduates

Chancellor John Sharp

Chancellor John Sharp addresses the 2012 graduating class at West Texas A&M University.

Chancellor John Sharp helped honor the thousands of A&M System spring graduates by taking part in commencement exercises at West Texas A&M University and academic convocation at Texas A&M University.

Convocation was held before Texas A&M’s commencement ceremonies, and gave the chancellor the opportunity to speak at his alma mater about his role as chancellor, and highlight some of the outstanding accomplishments of the members of the A&M System.

Sharp also reflected on his experience at Texas A&M and talked about the university’s students.  “The spirit of Aggieland in this campus shines like never before…I don’t know what we do to deserve these students who are here,” he said. “They are special.”

Five hundred miles north of College Station, Chancellor Sharp spoke at West Texas A&M’s commencement ceremonies, which included 86-year old graduate Dr. John Alpar, who received his master’s in history. Dr. Alpar is an ophthalmologist who also holds a master’s in English literature.

Also graduating were J.D. Newman, a speech communication major from Amarillo, who won a four-year tuition scholarship to WTAMU when he was 11, and father and daughter Clint McKinney and Bailey McKinney Wesley.

Chancellor John Sharp visits TEES

TEES DREAMS presentation

Chancellor John Sharp listens to a presentation on the DREAMS™ Digital EMS project, which was developed to improve the diagnosis and treatment of critically ill or injured persons in remote disaster or battlefield locations.

Chancellor John Sharp made his first official visit to the Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) on April 24. The chancellor spent the afternoon learning about TEES’ mission to serve the citizens of Texas through engineering and technology research and education, as well as taking part in hands-on demonstrations of engineering research technologies.

Dr. M. Katherine Banks, vice chancellor and dean of engineering and director of TEES, provided the chancellor an overview of the nearly 100-year-old state agency.

“TEES fills a unique role for The Texas A&M University System,” Banks said. “One that is complementary to higher education by facilitating engineering and technology-oriented research and development through its laboratories, research capabilities and support of industry and workforce development across the state.”

Sharp learned how TEES partners with the universities and agencies of the A&M System to establish unique engineering labs and research; enhance engineering research capacity and workforce development statewide; and support and assist the technology industry in creating the workforce of the future by developing academic and outreach programs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

The chancellor heard from several TEES research engineers representing biomedical, computer science and engineering, and industrial and systems engineering divisions within the agency.

Chancellor Sharp celebrates launch of TFS wildfire risk assessment website

John Sharp at TxWrap Launch in Austin

Senator Kirk Watson (far left) and Chancellor John Sharp joined TFS Director Tom Boggus (right) on the steps of the state capitol April 27 to unveil Texas Forest Service's new TxWrap web application.

Chancellor John Sharp was in Austin April 27 to help officials with Texas Forest Service unveil new web applications that will help homeowners and communities determine wildfire risk — and take measures to mitigate potential hazards.

Texas Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal, or TxWRAP, allows users to identify wildfire threats for a particular area based on landscape characteristics, historical fire occurrence, weather conditions, terrain and potential fire behavior. It also routes users to resources that can help them implement wildfire prevention practices.

Developed by Texas Forest Service GIS specialists, TxWRAP is the first web portal of its kind in the nation granting public access to risk assessment data that previously hasn’t been readily available, particularly in a user-friendly format.

Wildfires scorched almost 4 million acres across the state last year, destroying nearly 3,000 homes. Texas Forest Service officials say the new web applications will arm Texans with the tools they need to reduce threats from future blazes.

“Making a fundamental difference in the lives of students in The Texas A&M University System is something we try to do every day,” said Sharp. “But today we hope to make a difference in the lives of all Texans with this TxWRAP program from the Texas Forest Service.”

Chancellor Sharp tours Texas Transportation Institute

Sharp Visibility Lab Tour

Chancellor Sharp toured the Visibility Research Laboratory as part of his TTI visit.

Chancellor John Sharp continued his tour of the A&M System in January, when he visited the state headquarters of the Texas Transportation Institute, located in College Station. TTI is one of seven state agencies within the A&M System.

Sharp was taken on a tour of the Visibility Research Laboratory, which houses a 125-foot-long dark tunnel facility used for night simulations. Researchers are now able to test materials used for traffic signs and pavement markings at any time of day, rather than conducting their research outdoors at night, at the mercy of Texas weather conditions.

The chancellor heard presentations on TTI’s I-35 Expansion Project and the Roadside Safety and Physical Security Program. Sharp also was brought up to speed on TTI’s Freight Shuttle, which has the potential to revolutionize the way freight is moved across Texas and the nation.

“This is going to blow people away. It’s going to be like discovering oil. People are going to go nuts over this,” Sharp said following a presentation about the Freight Shuttle.

Chancellor Sharp Attends Texas A&M University-Kingsville’s Legacy Ball

Chancellor John Sharp

Chancellor John Sharp addresses guests at the annual President's Legacy Ball in Kingsville.

Chancellor Sharp traveled to Kingsville March 24 for Texas A&M University-Kingsville’s President’s Legacy Ball. The annual donor recognition and fundraising event was hosted by A&M-Kingsville president Steven Tallant and his wife, Karen. [Read more…]

Chancellor Sharp Tours Texas A&M University-Commerce

Chancellor John Sharp

Chancellor Sharp hosted a public forum for the university and Commerce communities.

Chancellor Sharp traveled to northeast Texas in February to visit the campus of Texas A&M University-Commerce. The university, which was established in 1889, has seen remarkable growth in student enrollment over the past few years, with enrollment now approaching 11,000.

Sharp toured the 1,834-acre campus, which has undergone many changes in the last decade. Several aging buildings on campus have been renovated and there has been new construction, including state-of-the-art buildings.

The chancellor also took time to speak to university administrators and students, and wrapped up his visit by holding a public forum. The forum was an opportunity for the chancellor to speak to the university and Commerce communities about issues in higher education, and collaborative efforts between the A&M System and A&M-Commerce.

“A&M-Commerce is a rising star within the A&M System, and is experiencing tremendous growth thanks to the leadership and vision of people like President Dan Jones,” Sharp said. “Going forward, I see it as the A&M System’s responsibility to help facilitate additional growth by making sure A&M-Commerce has the ability to provide students with the best facilities and faculty possible.”

Chancellor Sharp Visits Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

Chancellor Sharp visits Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

Chancellor Sharp visits Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

It’s a daunting task to quickly get up to speed about your new job when you have 19 very different and geographically diverse members you need to understand. And when those members are spread across Texas—from the Texas Panhandle to the Gulf Coast—traveling to them all takes determination, stamina and a desire to know what makes each university campus and agency unique.

Since being named chancellor of The Texas A&M University System in September 2011, Chancellor John Sharp has made it a priority to visit each and every member of the university system. One of the stops on his tour was Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, also knowns as “The Island University.”

President Flavius Killebrew and his staff took the chancellor on many campus tours, including the Harte Research Institute and the College of Nursing. The chancellor also spoke at an open forum with faculty and staff of the university, and was honored with a reception at the Art Museum of South Texas.