Starting off a meeting with reporters on his first day as president of Texas A&M University, Michael K. Young let out a loud "Howdy," the traditional Aggie greeting. "I'm getting better at that," he joked.
Minutes later, he received his first football question, unsurprisingly about the future of his new school's rivalry with the Texas Longhorns. "That is one of those [issues] I haven't looked at very closely," he said.
Welcome to Texas.
Life at A&M will certainly be different for Young, who arrived on campus Friday after nearly four years as president of the University of Washington. He relocated from the Seattle area to Bryan-College Station, leaving a job where his only boss was a board of regents to take one where he'll report to an active and outspoken chancellor, John Sharp. And he inherits a school famous for adhering to its unique traditions.
But Young said he isn't worried. Before Young arrived, Sharp surprised some people by asking all of A&M's vice presidents to submit letters of resignation by the time Young started his first day. The idea, Sharp said, was to allow Young to build his own team in the least confrontational manner possible. It would be up to the president to decide whether he accepted any of those resignations.
"I appreciate the chancellor's sentiment," Young said.
He quickly added: "I didn't ask him to do that. I have no intentions of coming in and doing a bloodletting. We will look to organize the senior leadership team in a way that best serves the university."
And Young said he is thrilled to be at the university.
"We are absolutely delighted," he said. "This is an extraordinary university, and I think this is a wonderful time in this history of this university."
In a short press conference, he lauded the student body as smart and engaged, and praised faculty research into some of the great global challenges, like food security, energy and the marine environment.
And the reaction he received from outside the school showed him how strong A&M's reputation is, he said.
"Virtually everyone who has said anything about it to me has said congratulations," he said.
Young said it's too early to fully know what his first priorities will be. He said he'll work to expand and deepen the university's faculty research opportunities. He wants to include more students in the research done on campus. And he wants to work on improving interdisciplinary programs so that faculty in different departments are working together.
He said he'll also work to promote the university to the outside world. Texans are getting a great investment on their tax dollars, he said. Administrative costs at the school are "stunningly low." And even though tuition has risen in the past decade, A&M is a remarkably affordable university," he said.
Disclosure: Texas A&M University is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.