Texas A&M University officials are in the midst of creating the university’s 2020-2025 Strategic Plan. A&M leaders held the third of four open forum discussions on Friday afternoon at the Memorial Student Center as part of an effort to obtain feedback from a variety of sources on Texas A&M’s direction for the next five years.

More than 100 A&M stakeholders and Brazos Valley community members attended the two-hour visioning session, which organizers said was designed to facilitate small group discussion.

The current draft of the five-year plan describes the 2020–2025 strategic plan as “laying the foundation of the next 150 years” at Texas A&M as the Vision 2020: Creating a Culture of Excellence strategic plan for the university comes to a close.

A&M Provost Carol Fierke was on hand at Friday afternoon’s session. She said the process began with a leadership retreat at which senior officials at A&M gathered to outline their thoughts on what the five-year plan might look like, in order to — in Fierke’s words — give faculty, staff and students something to respond to.

“But we really want the plan to reflect what we as a community — both the internal community and the external community — think are most important, which is why these forums are important,” Fierke said.

Organizers centered Friday’s forum on two topics: “Engage Texas and Beyond to Enhance our Impact” and “Be a Best Place to Live, Work and Learn.”

Attendees discussed a number of ideas at round tables, including ways the university can effectively foster a culture that supports a work-life balance and how to promote self-care in a university setting. Those at the forum also talked about ADA compliance, increasing access to mental health resources and about how A&M might become “more inclusive in how we support employees from non-traditional families,” according to the event outline.

The first forum, held on Oct. 17, focused on how to best support A&M faculty and on research development. At the second forum on Oct. 28, university officials sought feedback on ways to enhance undergraduate student success and on methods of reinventing graduate and professional education at A&M.

Kafi Slaughter, a member of the Texas A&M class of 1994, attended the discussion and said she and other black former students appeared on behalf of the Black Former Students Network and to represent the newly formed Aggie Impact Gala. Slaughter said she and other A&M former students have formed the Aggie Impact Gala, a two-day event later this month that is part of a larger effort to support — financially and otherwise — black former and current A&M students.

Slaughter added she and other former students with the Black Former Students Network and the Aggie Impact Gala are focused in part on learning about, and engaging with, black undergraduate and graduate students at A&M.

“In higher education and academia, it’s extremely important to make sure that you have all voices from all cultures and areas represented,” she said. “We want to make sure that our young black kids are able to be supported and to know we are with them. It’s important to be engaged in meetings like this.

“We were honored to be here. With us participating in the creation of this strategic plan, we have a say and a chance to upload things that we have come up with that align with the university’s current pillars.”

A fourth open forum will run from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 18 with Fierke and A&M President Michael K. Young serving as presenters and hosts.

Vice Provost Michael Benedik said that the university has received numerous comments via the online feedback option, adding that he hopes people within and outside of the Texas A&M community continue to share feedback online and at the forums. 

The final draft of the plan will be released in early 2020, according to Kelli Levey Reynolds, who is the communications director of the office of the Provost. 

To learn more or to deliver feedback, visit provost.tamu.edu/Strategic-Planning.

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