Texas A&M On Track For 2020 Goals, Loftin Declares At Convocation
COLLEGE STATION — Texas A&M University is on track to meet its year 2020 goals that were set forth more than a decade ago, President R. Bowen Loftin declared at the institution’s academic convocation Friday, adding that he is firmly committed to achieving “top 10” public university status within that timeframe.
He was referring to the goals and aspiration set forth by a 250-member task force that began working in 1997 and, after two years, produced an 84-page document titled “Vision 2020: Creating a Culture of Excellence,” which has served as Texas A&M’s long-range roadmap.
As “Vision 2020” reached its mid-term point, Loftin appointed a new task force — including about 200 faculty, staff, students, former students and others — to assess its progress and, he said, to make sure the underlying premises are as relevant today as they were slightly over a decade ago.
“We have made significant and focused progress over the past decade in moving toward the ultimate aspiration of being a top 10 public university. The work being done at the departmental, college, divisional, and institutional levels should be celebrated,” Loftin said. “This is solid evidence of our creating a Culture of Excellence through concentrating on effective planning and assessment as well as on building our strengths through sound investment.”
He took the opportunity to pay tribute to the university’s faculty and staff. “I remain firmly committed, as president of Texas A&M, to be at the forefront in recognizing and celebrating you — our faculty and staff — your productivity, your expertise and the quality of your efforts,” he told the crowd assembled in Rudder Theater as the university launches its 135th year of service to the state and nation.
He cited a 19-point list of accomplishments over the past 11 years that directly relate to "Vision 2020" provisions. They include:
• hiring more than 1,000 outstanding faculty (some new and some replacement), including Nobel Laureates;
• enhancing the diversity of the faculty and staff and adopting a comprehensive diversity plan focused on accountability, climate and equity;
• growing from $402 million annually in 1999 to $690 million in 2010 in research expenditures and now ranking among the top 20 research institutions nationally, according to the National Science Foundation;
• planning and building facilities totaling more than $800 million;
• raising more than $1.5 billion in the “One Spirit One Vision” capital campaign that included funds for 55 endowed faculty chairs, 44 professorships and more than $100 million in graduate fellowships and undergraduate scholarships;
• being selected for membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU), the highly prestigious organization restricted to the top institutions of higher learning;
• being authorized to establish a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s most prestigious honor society for undergraduates; and
• enrolling more than 75,000 first year and transfer undergraduate students, of whom 27 percent were first generation college students.
Loftin noted the “Vision 2020” document included references to rankings by “U.S. News & World Report” as indicators of external perceptions of Texas A&M. He pointed out that in the magazine’s 2012 college guide released earlier this month, Texas A&M vaulted into the ranks of the “top 20” public universities — tied for 19th, which is three places higher than last year.
He reported that the mid-term review task force identified three “marks of excellence” on which to focus going forward: lead in scholarly impact, lead in educating the next generation of leaders and lead in stewardship and partner engagement, with each category noting about 10 specific areas of concentration.
Underscoring the latter category, Loftin said "We will graduate highly sought after leaders who are critical thinkers, effective communicators and lifelong learners with diverse and global perspectives. We will build on our historical emphasis on student leadership development.”
He noted the task force’s final report included the following conclusions, all of which he said he embraces:
“It is our position that Texas A&M University strongly reaffirms its ultimate aspiration of being recognized as one of the 10 best public universities in the nation by 2020. While maintaining and enhancing our historical distinctiveness of developing leaders of character who embody our core values, Texas A&M will leverage its extraordinary role as a land, sea and space grant institution to continue to build a culture of excellence focused on meeting the evolving educational and societal needs of the state, nation and world.
“In fulfilling the aspirations of Texas A&M, the Vision 2020 Mid-Term Review Executive Committee views the changing environment as an opportunity to prioritize and focus strategic initiatives and strategic partnerships that leverage our strengths to address state, national and world needs.
“Our traditional core values of excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect and selfless service will continue to guide our decisions, programs and student development emphases. We will continue being effective and efficient stewards of resources and the public trust. We will develop further the university’s human resources to create a learning, research and service environment of the first order.”
Loftin emphasized that the “Vision 2020” reaffirmation includes “maintaining…our historic distinctiveness, emphasizing the leadership and character development of which we are proud, as well as our focus on research and service that serve the state, nation and world.”
The “Vision 2020” study was co-chaired by then-President Ray M. Bowen and Jon L. Hagler, a 1958 Texas A&M graduate.
Bowen and Hagler co-authored a letter that served as an opening statement providing an overview of the study and the resulting document, which includes 12 “imperatives” for attainment in achieving consensus “top 10” public university status. “It achieves the very difficult task of getting a sense of direction from many important and informed points of view,” they stated. “We believe it represents a convergence of some of the best thinking on higher education in many years. It is bold in its recognition of the progress required to continue to move Texas A&M forward, a process that will add value to the degree of every former, current and future student.”
To view the entire text of President Loftin’s 2011 Academic Convocation address, go to: http://president.tamu.edu.
For more about “Vision 2020,”go to: http://vision2020.tamu.edu/.