We’re going through tough times. A health care crisis. Tighter budgets. Limited resources. Workplace and lifestyle strains.
As you all know, we’ve had to make difficult decisions because of these challenges. With our guiding principles in mind, we’ve had to find ways to sustain and strengthen the organization to meet our mission. Some of these changes have been announced and others are still being rolled out.
To help outline where we are, the following changes within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and AgriLife Research have been announced:
- Four positions have been eliminated in the Vice Chancellor’s Office. Two vacant positions within federal relations and alumni relations units will remain unfilled.
- In an effort to better connect several of our independently functioning entities with our academic departments and eliminate unnecessary duplication of effort, the following changes have been made:
- The Gardens will more closely align with the world-class expertise in the Horticulture Department under the leadership of Dr. Mike Arnold, who is a national leader in public gardens. He will continue the planning for phase 2 expansion of The Gardens and work towards a better integration of the academic mission into the overarching initiative. Two positions from the Gardens team have been eliminated.
- The Borlaug Institute is assuming administrative responsibility for most of the administrative work previously handled within the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases (IIAD). Some of the IIAD project portfolio will be migrated to other academic departments where appropriate. IIAD will continue to function as an independent institute focused on addressing infectious animal diseases. A total of seven IIAD positions have been eliminated.
- The Institute for Plant Genomics and Biotechnology has been dissolved, eliminating seven positions. Faculty will be returning to their respective departments, and five employees will move to new positions within college departments conducting similar work.
- Common services are being centralized into new service units to create efficiencies, enhance quality of services, improve workloads, strengthen career ladders and opportunities for employee advancement and professional growth, and reduce administrative burden, resulting in the following changes:
- A number of new positions with the AgriLife Information Technology (IT) shared service unit have been posted online. Fifteen information technology departmental support positions within academic departments have been eliminated, and these individuals have been encouraged to apply for these new positions.
- We are creating a new academic advising unit that is a dispersed, centralized structure with advisors reporting to a single supervisor. Today, 23 new advising positions opened for this centralized academic advising unit. The academic advising function at the departmental level is being dissolved, eliminating 26 positions, and affected individuals have been encouraged to apply for the newly created positions.
All affected employees have been provided a 60-day notice period. These individuals have been given flexibility to search for new positions and have been encouraged to apply for newly posted positions. The intent is to fill these open positions as soon as possible.
These are difficult decisions, and we have more work ahead. For every affected employee, I want you to know that I am sorry. These changes are not a reflection of you and your contributions.
I value our entire team here at Texas A&M AgriLife. I know this news is difficult, and there are many questions. To help update everyone at the same time, I’ve scheduled a virtual update on Friday, July 24, at 2 p.m. which you will be able to access here. You will be able to hear from me directly and I can address your concerns. Questions can be submitted in advance, anonymously, via this submission form. Please plan to submit your questions by noon on Wednesday, July 22. For those who cannot attend live remotely, a recording of the session will be available after the live event concludes at the link above.
I’ve said this before, and it bears repeating: I’m so proud of the adaptability, collaboration and creativity of the AgriLife community. Your understanding and your commitment to Texans will help us emerge a stronger, more resilient organization on the other side of this pandemic and ensure that we meet our mission–to reach and improve the lives of Texans.
Patrick J. Stover, Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor, Texas A&M AgriLife
Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Director, Texas A&M AgriLife Research