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A&M’s New President

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Good news and bad news out of College Station today. Elsa Murano is a good choice as the sole finalist for president. She was brought in by Bob Gates to be dean of the College of Agriculture and to shake up the “good ol’ boy” system in the College. And shake it up she did; only one top administrator remains from the group she inherited. If she is not popular, as one commenter suggested to my previous post, that’s the reason. (The people I talk to at A&M are big fans of Murano.) I think A&M’s image will benefit from having its first woman president and first Hispanic president. For those Aggies who would accuse me of political correctness, I plead guilty. A&M could stand a little political correctness. The bad news, and I don’t think it’s so bad, is that the regents did not give the faculty the opportunity to meet with Murano, so the principle of shared governance remains a sore subject on the campus. However, it is clear that the regents got themselves in a box with their confrontational attitude toward the faculty, and they were either going to have to delay the presidential search for another month or two, or they had to move ahead without faculty input. These were two bad alternatives and they made the right one. A&M needed to know who its next president was going to be.

In the end, the choice is not that surprising. A&M has a long history of choosing presidents from its own family — former students and current administrators. I think it’s a safe bet that the regents (and the governor) didn’t want an outsider, and apparently all of the search committee’s recommendations were outsiders. The final choice was between interim president Eddie Joe Davis and Murano. The story I heard was that Perry switched his allegiance late in the game from Davis to Murano. (Another story I heard was that Davis was left at the altar once before, when he had a chance to be named chancellor but Ann Richards didn’t agree.) This could have turned out a lot worse.

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