Hullabaloo

The resignation of Texas A&M’s president has influential Aggies asking whether the governor and his political allies are running the show.

Texas A&M is in turmoil, but don’t take my word for it. As Jon Hagler, a distinguished alumnus who has chaired the A&M Foundation, wrote in an op-ed piece in The Eagle, the Bryan—College Station daily, “Today’s governance crisis at Texas A&M is extremely serious. It may be the most important crisis the university has faced since A&M president Earl Rudder’s challenge to the status quo fifty years ago.” (The reference is to Rudder’s decision to admit women, over the objections of most students.) Just a month and a half ago, A&M’s president, Elsa Murano, after serving for barely more than a year, was forced to resign following a very public split with Chancellor Mike McKinney. Almost immediately, the faculty senate cast a vote of no confidence in McKinney by a margin of 55 to 9, and former president Ray Bowen went public with his criticisms. The governor of Texas, himself a loyal Aggie, is believed to have been the driving force behind both the hiring and firing of Murano, through his political allies on the board of regents and in high administrative positions. Indeed, Rick Perry’s role in the A&M hierarchy has been formalized. The A&M System’s organizational chart puts the governor first, the regents second, and the chancellor third. The president of A&M occupies a box on a lower level, equivalent to system bureaucrats and the presidents of much smaller outposts in places like Texarkana and Kingsville. (Perry does not appear on the University of Texas System’s org chart.)

Governance is not a glamorous subject. Nevertheless, it is at the heart of what is wrong

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