In the past few months, Texas A&M AgriLife has responded to the many challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has created. Your collective teamwork and contributions have been nothing short of heroic. As is the case across the world, COVID-19 has also created significant financial challenges for our agencies and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences that require an equally coordinated, and thoughtful, response to ensure we can continue delivering on our mission of education, research, extension and service for years to come. We must emerge from this crisis stronger and more nimble to meet our mission of reaching every Texan.
Since announcing projected budgetary impacts on May 22, we have worked closely with unit leaders to determine a clear path for effectively meeting the state and university’s rescission requests. The potential size of the challenge we face, even under the most favorable of circumstances, is vast. To avoid frequent exercises in budget cuts, we must dig deep and avoid short-term, across-the-board measures. Today, I am sharing with you several actions we are taking to address the impending financial gaps.
We have identified some difficult but necessary organizational changes that will be implemented in the weeks to come, including updates to policies focused on a more transparent approach to operations, realignment of programs in an effort to reduce redundancy, centralization of select services focused on academic and service excellence, and elimination of positions.
As programs and services are restructured and/or realigned, reductions in force will be unavoidable. I know this information is difficult to hear, but these steps are being taken thoughtfully and with a clear outcome in mind. Due to the unique administrative structure of our organization, direct supervisors will meet with members of their units in the coming weeks to share details of their distinct plans that range from restructuring some programs and related positions to elimination of duplicative or no longer needed roles. We will announce final decisions in phases throughout July and August.
It is critical that all understand our current situation and what changes will be occurring over the next few months. We will hold a Town Hall in the next few weeks to answer your questions and hear your feedback on the path that lies ahead.
During this challenging time, we are using the Guiding Principles outlined at the onset of this process to serve as our decision-making North Star. Grounded in a commitment to efficiency, flexibility, transparency, excellence and stability for the future, we are steadfast in the knowledge that the steps we are taking now are the right steps to ensure a strong future serving Texans for generations to come.
In closing, I know none of us expected or wanted to respond to a pandemic. But I am proud of our response and how we have risen to the challenge. We will continue to do what is needed to respond to this crisis and the corresponding financial strain—we will do so together and with an eye to long-term success. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and I am proud to be forging the path alongside a team that is unwavering in your dedication to the job and commitment to the hard work needed to reach our collective goals, while also being good stewards of the state’s resources.
Patrick J. Stover, Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor, Texas A&M AgriLife
Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Director, Texas A&M AgriLife Research