Updated, 1:30 p.m.: In a conference call with reporters, Jay Kimbrough, the newly appointed deputy chancellor and interim chancellor of the Texas A&M University System, and Richard Box, chairman of the system's board of regents, discussed Kimbrough's new position.
"My main mission here is to maintain our administrative processes so we can keep things going as the board conducts their search" for a permanent chancellor, Kimbrough said. Though he has a history of going into troubled agencies, such as the Texas Youth Commission, and turning them around, Kimbrough said this mission is different. "There is certainly no crisis at this university system or any university system in this state," he said.
As for the state's ongoing debate about the future of its higher education institutions, Kimbrough said, "I think 'communications' is the key word. There needs to be an open dialogue where everybody can talk and come up with ideas." He said he has arranged to meet with professors and others to discuss their concerns over certain contentious policies, such as a notorious "red and black report" unveiled last year showing which professors make money for the university and which don't. He also said he's looking forward to working with the Legislature's new higher education-focused joint oversight committee.
Though he has worked closely with the governor, the extent of whose involvement in higher education has been questioned by some, Kimbrough said, "There's no micromanaging of this university, and there's no micromanaging of me by Rick Perry."
Box confirmed that Kimbrough was the only candidate considered for the position and that the decision not to consider him as a candidate for the permanent chancellor position was Kimbrough's choice. "I'll be 64 years old in September, and I don't want to make a pledge of commitment for a long haul that the chancellor's spot, I believe, requires," Kimbrough said. "I think I can assist best at the operator level."
Jay Kimbrough, a former chief of staff to Gov. Rick Perry, this morning was named deputy chancellor of the Texas A&M University System. He will also serve as interim chancellor until a replacement can be found for outgoing chancellor Mike McKinney, whose term ends today.
The A&M System regents held a telephonic meeting this morning to make their selection for the two positions. As the Tribune reported this week, Kimbrough, who has served in numerous capacities in state government and previously at the A&M System, was a heavy favorite for both positions.
“Jay has an extensive record of service to the A&M System and the state of Texas, as well as to our country,” Board of Regents Chairman Richard Box said in a statement. “He will be an invaluable resource for the incoming chancellor, and he is an excellent selection to serve in the interim capacity while we work to identify the right candidate for the permanent position.”
Box also indicated that Kimbrough, a former Marine lance corporal and Vietnam veteran, will not be considered a candidate for the permanent chancellor position.