Texas A&M

Former A&M president, distinguished alumnus, assail regents

Apr 23, 2012 By Paul Burka

Writing in The Eagle, the newspaper for Bryan-College Station, president emeritus Ray Bowen and distinguished alumnus John Hagler charge that A&M regents have “failed the university.” The article appeared on April 21, San Jacinto Day, the most important date on the Aggie calendar. This is the day on…

The Texas Football Coaching Carousel

Dec 4, 2011 By Jason Cohen

Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman marches on as gossip swirls about University of Texas’s Mack Brown’s departure and University of Houston’s Kevin Sumlin’s future. 

Farmers Flight!

Oct 31, 2011 By Paul Burka

Texas A&M’s announcement that it was bolting the Big 12 for the SEC signaled the end of a passionate rivalry with the University of Texas that has defined the two schools for more than a century. But what does the end of Aggies versus Longhorns mean for the rest of us?

Perry, politics, and football [updated]

Aug 14, 2011 By Paul Burka

Texas A&M’s move to the Southeast Conference is not just about football. It is also about politics. It is a way for Perry to validate himself as a southerner. In one bold move–and don’t think for a moment that Perry didn’t orchestrate this–Perry has used A&M to leverage himself into…

UT, A&M could split in football realignment

Jun 3, 2010 By Paul Burka

The hot topic on sports talk shows today was that the PAC-10 was set to issue invitations to six Big 12 schools: UT, A&M, OU, Okie State, Texas Tech, and Colorado. The PAC 10 commissioner issued an explicit denial late this afternoon. An A&M source told me after I posted…

“Corps Values”

Jan 28, 2010 By Paul Burka

This was the headline for a story I wrote about the battle over changes that were taking place at Texas A&M, in the heyday of the Gates presidency (“Corps Values,” May 2004). Current A&M students have no historical memory of this period. So that readers may understand the…

“Most important crisis at A&M since Earl Rudder”

Jun 14, 2009 By Paul Burka

I received an e-mail from a friend at Texas A&M that consists of an op-ed piece written by Jon Hagler, whose service to A&M includes board chairman of the Texas A&M Foundation and co-chairman of Vision 2020, a long-term project to enhance Texas A&M’s national prominence. He was named a…


Jun 14, 2009 By Paul Burka

The following is A&M president Elsa Murano's statement, as released by a media firm on behalf of Murano and her attorneys, Glickman, Carter & Bachynsky, LLP: “The events of recent weeks have been very taxing for the entire Aggie family. The faculty, students and staff have demonstrated incredible loyalty to this institution, upholding our Aggie values during these exceedingly trying times. I am truly grateful for the countless expressions of support that I have received from our faculty, staff, current and former students, and friends of Texas A&M. I cannot adequately express how much I have appreciated your many letters, phone calls, e-mails, and especially your prayers. They have been truly uplifting and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. “My husband Peter and I fell in love with Texas A&M the moment we set foot in Aggieland back in 1995. This deep and abiding passion for what the university represents, and for the people of the Aggie family, reinforces my duty to do what is best for Texas A&M. For this reason, I will be resigning as President of our beloved university, effective tomorrow, June 15, 2009, to return to the faculty, subject to approval by the Board of Regents. “Our university is strong and I know that we will weather this storm. I sincerely hope and pray that we will intensify our efforts to protect and enhance Texas A&M’s reputation. I trust that the important issues raised in recent weeks will be addressed in the Aggie way – with integrity, selfless service and indomitable spirit. God bless you all, and gig ‘em!” * * * * This was inevitable. A public feud between the president and the chancellor (Mike McKinney) could not be allowed to continue. This is a terrible development for Texas A&M. The turmoil on campus has received frequent coverage in the Chronicle of Higher Education, a newspaper that is widely read by university faculty and administrators. It surely will have an adverse effect on A&M's national reputation and ability to attract faculty, because the whiff of political interference has now become a stench. A&M has now had an unsettled situation at the top since Bob Gates resigned to become Secretary of Defense in the fall of 2006. For that matter, Gates won the presidency only after a bitter fight on the A&M board of regents, as Rick Perry was lobbying for Phil Gramm (that would have been a disaster!) and the Bush family was backing Gates. Gates won by a 5-4 margin. Murano never had much of a chance to succeed. She came into a situation that was already a mess. A faculty-led search committee had interviewed eight candidates, including Murano, and had forwarded the names of three sitting university presidents to the regents. The regents rejected all three names, spiked the committee, and took off on its own search. The choice came down to Murano, who had been Gates's choice to be dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and interim president Eddie Joe Davis, who was on leave as president of the Texas A&M Foundation. Murano won, a choice that was presumed to have been directed by Perry. Murano did not have a smooth ride as president. She immediately dismissed or reassigned some of the top administrators whom Gates had installed and surrounded herself with friendlies whom she brought over from Ag. This left her isolated from the big academic colleges of engineering, business, and liberal arts. She could not shake the perception that she was a yes-woman for Perry. It got worse when she fired Dean (that's his name, not his position) Bresciani, the popular vice-president for student affairs, and replaced him with retired Marine Corps general Joe Weber, a former buddy of Perry's in their Corps of Cadets days. As was the case with Murano's appointment, the perception was that Perry was calling the shots. The beginning of the end for Murano was McKinney's statement on May 27 that he was considering combining the offices of chancellor and president to save money. Sure. He wasn't going to eliminate his office. (See "Report: A&M may combine chancellor, president; Murano's future in doubt," posted May 27.)

Report: A&M may combine chancellor, president; Murano’s future uncertain

May 27, 2009 By Paul Burka

From today’s story in The Eagle, the newspaper for Bryan-College Station: Texas A&M University System officials are considering merging the jobs of system chancellor and Texas A&M University president, Chancellor Mike McKinney confirmed Tuesday. No plans for such a move are in place, McKinney told The Eagle, but he and…

First Kill All the Law Schools

May 15, 2009 By Paul Burka

I would have voted against a law school for Dallas. Why build a new law school when a law school already exists at SMU? There are two alternatives to building a new law school in Dallas. (1) Arrange for the state to pay the operating costs for the SMU law…

The governor’s “slush” funds: Should government pick winners and losers?

Apr 13, 2009 By Paul Burka

My post of last week, "Batteries not Included," elicited an interesting comment a frequent commenter who styles himself as "Conservative Texan." Why should government be deciding winners and losers among development projects? Government has a poor record in these endeavors. That’s because they tend to be controlled by which project has the best lobbyists, and the deepest pocket campaign contributors — not on their merits. I agree 100% with Conservative Texan. You and I don't know, for example, whether the $50 million project that the governor's office recently bestowed on Texas A&M is a good project on the merits. But we do know that A&M has a private back door to the governor's office that other universities don't have, and we have every reason to question whether the level of scrutiny applied to A&M proposals is rigorous. The testimony of the staffers from the governor's office before the House Appropriations committee about the A&M project was full of puffery. The staffers referred repeatedly to "world class researchers." How do they know who or what a world class researcher is? Nobody gets a piece of parchment that says "world class researcher" on it. Nobody has "world class researcher" on their business cards. Show me a list of world class researchers. You can't, because there is none -- except the list of Nobel laureates. This was hype designed to snow the committee. No sale.

Nye urges Finance Committee to keep UTIMCO independent

Mar 30, 2009 By Patricia Kilday Hart

UTIMCO was back before the Senate Finance Committee today, and what a different one regent can make. Texas A&M regent (and TXU chairman emeritus) Earl Nye, replacing former UT regent Robert Rowling as chairman of UTIMCO, gave a calm and convincing analysis of UTIMCO’s performance and urged lawmakers not to…

Tuition de-reg: Will it be an issue in the speaker’s race?

Nov 23, 2008 By Paul Burka

Here’s the problem for Tom Craddick. The House passed tuition deregulation in 2003 for one reason and one reason only: The speaker twisted Republicans’ arms to get the votes. Almost six years later, tuition and fees at Texas’s public university have risen by an average of 50%, according to Robert…

Bum Steer Awards 2002

Jan 1, 2002 By Texas Monthly

A year of avaricious Aggies, banned boogers, chagrined cheerleaders, dotty dwellings, expletive-deleted Enron, famous fugitives, Germanic goofs, horny highways, icky insects, judicial jests, kooky kidnappers, look-alike logos, misguided Mavericks, news-making nuts, ousted Osamas, problematic pachyderms, quirky quarterbacks, rampaging rats, scary skunks, tetrahydrocannibinol-filled tacos, unhealthy urbanites, volleyball vamps, wayward W's, x-rated x-hibitionists, young yahoos, and zany Zeta-Jones.