I don’t believe that A&M chancellor Mike McKinney lost his job because he didn’t implement the Jeff Sandefer “breakthrough solutions” for higher ed reform fast enough. And I don’t believe that this was a heavyhanded Rick Perry play. I think that the decision was made at A&M by influential regents for reasons that had nothing to do with Sandefer or Perry. These regents told McKinney they wanted to move in a different direction and he needed to step down. Rather than seeing this as a sign of political interference, I believe it was an encouraging sign that the leadership at A&M understands that the Sandefer/TPPF reforms are problematic and that they are getting in the way of A&M’s growth in areas like a new biotech corridor. In short, McKinney has become a distraction.
The simple fact is that McKinney had worn out his welcome. When Robert Berdahl. the president of the American Association of Universities, the umbrella organization for the nation’s elite research universities, wrote McKinney, warning him that A&M’s use of the Sandefer reforms could result in A&M’s losing its membership, McKinney bragged that he had thrown Berdahl’s letter in the trash can and fired back an intemperate response. This put A&M‘w greatest academic achievement, AAU membership, at risk. Earlier, he had fired A&M president Elsa Murano after writing a demeaning and over-the-top review of her job performance that became public knowledge. I did not see, but I did hear reports from A&M sources, that McKinney’s appearance before House Appropriations this year did not go well. I think his term as chanc ellor came to an end for the right reasons, not the wrong ones, and A&M will be better off with new leadership. Despite my mention of Phil Gramm and Jeff Wentworth yesterday, the new chancellor is odds-on to be A&M president R. Bowen Loftin.