So this A&M story will not go away. It’s not really surprising—the aggies have a tremendous alumni network that likes to keep close tabs on the goings-on of the school. No one’s really happy with the press the school is getting, and questions are beginning to rise about Gov. Perry’s involvement in TAMU matters.
The San Antonio Express-News is trying to dissect Perry’s public statements about ousted president Elsa Murano to determine his level of involvement in school affairs. To wit, writer Melissa Ludwig points to one contradictory statement from Perry:
Perry told [reporter Jennifer] Hiller he was “not that close” to the board’s decisions on hiring and firing, but then said he was aware of the direction the board was heading. Perry said he was always in [the] loop for major decisions at the state’s universities, such as the regents’ decision to tap Francisco Cigarroa as chancellor of the University of Texas System.
“I’m generally not in the dark about those kinds of things,” Perry said. “It doesn’t necessarily surprise me.” Perry said he could not separate himself from major university decisions.
“You cannot remove a governor from the inner workings of the university,” Perry told Hiller. “I appoint the board (of regents).”
This leads to further questions of Perry’s involvement in university decisions, particularly at Texas A&M. Statements that most likely were meant as jokes (“I control this place,” in reference to A&M) are looked at more closely when one discovers that regents appointed to Texas A&M’s board were large Perry donors.
Whatever Perry’s involvement in ousting Murano was (and maybe there was none), students and alumni of the school want to turn the page. One Aggie blogger, clearly frustrated by the political football her school has become, reminds us why A&M is there in the first place:
Regardless of what is or is not true, I find this whole thing to be quite sad. It is a shame that those in leadership positions seem to have forgotten the purpose of our great university – education. Texas A&M University is an educational institution responsible for 50,000 students, not to mention the thousands more that fall under the umbrella of the Texas A&M University System. Our university is not, and should not be, a political toy for the governor or anyone else.
The writer goes further, addressing Gov. Perry directly by saying, “How on earth can we expect to become a “Top 10″ institution in the shadow of politics and cronyism, or allegations thereof? . . . I encourage you to be a part of the solution to our problems and to help propel us forward rather than be a hindrance to what is necessary to get the job done.”
All valid points and important questions to be raised. As Texans, I think we all hope that new leadership under the interim president (and subsequently the next president, once he or she is installed) will provide a new beginning for Texas A&M. The students deserve that.