The year 2020 has been unprecedented for Texas A&M AgriLife and for the entire world. We rose to meet the challenges of illness, uncertainty, pandemic-related restrictions, economic disruptions and adverse weather. And still, we continued to fulfill our mission and respond to the needs of Texans. I am inspired by your dedication and hard work, and deeply grateful.
In response to COVID-19, we’ve converted hundreds of face-to-face educational programs to online formats. We’ve also kept students and the public safe while meeting their needs for science-based information. AgriLife Extension and the Forest Service helped with disaster assessment and recovery for COVID-19, wildfires and hurricanes. TVMDL maintained normal business operations to support animal health, despite a limited number of staff—and performed COVID-19 testing. AgriLife Research scientists collaborated with one another and colleagues from around the world in the fight against COVID-19. At the same time, we continued to advance understanding of life sciences, sustainable agricultural production, nutrition and health, and natural resource protection.
As a result of the economic disruptions from COVID-19, we dealt with painful budget reductions for AgriLife Research and the college. Despite this hurdle, we were able to respond in ways that advance our long-term organizational impact and mission.
While change is never easy, I am proud of the way every member of the AgriLife team has chosen to persevere—adopting new norms, identifying new processes, and working together to overcome the inevitable bumps in the road that come with such an organization-wide transformation. I know there is still work to be done on this front, but I am also heartened to see a light at the end of the tunnel, which is why we’ve simultaneously pushed forward with our strategic planning process, engaging members throughout AgriLife to lay the path for how we will further enhance our organization’s ability to nimbly respond to the evolving needs of every Texan going forward, while advancing the careers of our valued members.
You’ll hear about the outcomes of strategic planning and much more at the State of AgriLife address on January 14, which I hope every single member of our organization will be able to join. This virtual event replaces the annual in-person AgriLife Conference in offering us an opportunity to come together to align on the path we’ve forged to date and clearly lay out what is needed to navigate the journey that lies ahead.
I am incredibly honored to be on that journey with such a remarkable team of talented and committed individuals, and I am excited to continue building on an already strong foundation aimed at elevating our work, supporting our employees, and enhancing outreach to all Texans.
That’s certainly no small charge, so for the next couple of weeks, I’d encourage you to please enjoy your well-deserved time off and quality time with your families—whether in person or otherwise. I hope you will meet the new year feeling refreshed and as excited as I am to continue bringing our collective vision to reality.
Patrick J. Stover, Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor, Texas A&M AgriLife
Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Director, Texas A&M AgriLife Research