The ongoing debate about the future of of Texas higher education has, until this point, been most dynamic at the University of Texas at Austin, where students, faculty, and alumni have written a series of concerned letters to their regents. In April, when accounting professor Robert Strawser, the speaker of Texas A&M University's Faculty Senate appeared at a Texas Public Policy Foundation forum, he observed, "We haven't heard very much from Texas A&M — at least publicly."
That appears to be changing.
Earlier this week, five A&M faculty members from various disciplines drafted a letter to Richard Box, the chairman of the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents, laying out their concern regarding the lack of transparency in the board's apparent intention to implement seven proposed "breakthrough solutions" promoted by the TPPF. The seven "solutions" were authored by TPPF board member and Austin businessman Jeff Sandefer, whose father J.D. "Jakie" Sandefer has been actively encouraging A&M regents to adopt them.
On Wednesday, the letter was made available for faculty members to electronically co-sign. By the time it was sent to Box on Thursday, more than 530 faculty members had added their names.
Last week, A&M Chancellor Mike McKinney abruptly announced his retirement, effective July 1, which sources say was quietly encouraged by regents in part because of his perceived mishandling of the seven "solutions."
"The escalating turmoil over the future directions of Texas A&M," the letter reads, "and the lack of candor on the part of our leadership, make it extremely difficult for us to recruit and retain top students, staff, administrators, and faculty." Specifically, the letter asks Box to identify "the specific problems [he] is trying to solve" at next week's board of regents meeting.
"Our goal is to work with you to achieve viable solutions to our perceived current problems in order to meet the needs of our students and citizens," the faculty wrote.
We will update this post as responses from administrators become available.
Here is the full text of the letter: