Texas A&M University President Michael Young will retire at the end of the school year, he said in a letter obtained by The Texas Tribune.
His retirement is expected to take effect May 31, 2021, after which he will assume a newly created role as director of the school’s Institute for Religious Liberties and International Affairs within the Bush School of Government and Public Service.
"Marti (Young's wife) and I have been discussing this for more than a year. We concluded that, after almost a quarter century of serving in senior academic leadership roles and an increasing desire to turn back to topics that occupied much of my previous career, this would be our last year," Young said in a campus-wide announcement sent Wednesday morning.
Young joined the university as president in 2015. John Sharp, A&M System chancellor, recruited Young in his previous position as president and tenured professor of law at the University of Washington. The Harvard Law graduate also taught at the George Washington University Law School and was a Columbia University professor for more than two decades.
In a statement, Sharp said the university has "made great strides" under Young's leadership. As president he oversaw a boost in student retention rates, increased enrollment of Hispanic undergraduates and the expansion to two new sites — one in Washington, D.C. and another in McAllen.
"When we recruited him, we wanted him to help Texas A&M become the best public university in the country and we have made great strides in doing so under his leadership," Sharp said.
Last year, The Texas Tribune reported that Young’s five-year employment contract with the university would not be renewed upon expiry in April 2020. Instead, Young would join other campus heads who depend on annual appointment letters and system policy to govern the terms of his employment.
In a letter Sharp sent to Young at the time, the college president was told the change was “in no way a reflection” of his performance.
Young’s five-year agreement guaranteed him $1 million in annual pay. The seven-figure earning made Young the highest-compensated university president in Texas in 2017 and among the top dozen nationwide, according to a ranking compiled by the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Young's million dollar pay will not carryover to his new role, but he doesn't yet know what his new salary will be, he said in a press call Wednesday.
Young has been in talks with the administration about shifting responsibilities for months.
On Feb. 3, Sharp wrote a letter to Elaine Mendoza, chairperson of the board of regents — the governing body for the Texas A&M System — noting the plans for Young’s new role.
“Young has expressed a desire to retire and return to teaching and research as a tenured faculty member of the Bush School,” Sharp wrote in another letter obtained by the Tribune.
“The creation of the Institute not only achieves President Young’s desires, it also will allow for an orderly transition from President Young to his eventual successor,” Sharp wrote.
The February letter stated that a search committee process would commence once Young announced his retirement plans in September.
“Our hope is to have the new President chosen and in office by June 1, 2021,” Sharp wrote at the time.
In January, Young was on a short list of 30 finalists who applied for the top position at the University of Colorado System and went on to interview with the school's board of regents. Young was among 11 applicants who were selected for in-person interviews. He was not selected for the job.
In an interview Wednesday, Young said he doesn't see himself leading another university in the future.
"I cannot conceive the circumstance in which I would do this again," Young said.
Disclosure: Texas A&M University and the Texas A&M University System have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.