This week’s National Podcast of Texas—a conversation with Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young—was recorded live in Austin at the Texas A&M House during South by Southwest. May 1 will mark Young’s four-year anniversary at A&M. His prior posts include leading the University of Utah and George Washington University’s Law School. The Harvard Law graduate also spent twenty years teaching at Columbia University and was Deputy Under Secretary for Economic and Agricultural Affairs, and Ambassador for Trade and Environmental Affairs in the Department of State during the administration of President George H.W. Bush.
Three takeaways from his appearance on The National Podcast of Texas:
1. Young will continue to ask the Legislature to increase its per-student funding to public universities.
“We are really sympathetic to the Legislature in that they have a lot of competing demands. But the problem the state’s facing right now is that the pot of money for per-student funding has remained the same, although the number of students it’s being spread across is a lot larger. So that means we’re getting less money per student than we did even in 2008 at the bottom of the recession—about $1,500 per student less. And at the end of the day, higher education is the determiner of the growth, development, economic trajectory, and the social well-being of the state.
2. He believes the ten-year, $75 million deal A&M signed last year with football coach Jimbo Fisher will wind up paying for itself.
“We use zero state money for that. If he fills up Kyle Field, if we get to some New Year’s bowls, if we get some better TV times, he more than makes up for that salary and it brings an enormous amount of visibility to the university.”
3. The University of Texas at Austin and A&M haven’t played each other in football since A&M moved to the Southeastern Conference. Their last game was in 2011, and Young doesn’t expect scheduling to make it possible again anytime soon, despite legislative efforts to mandate it.
“I think we will play. But I think it will be in a bowl game. If I were a betting man, I’d bet that’s what we’ll first meet. And that would be fun.”