Outgoing Texas A&M Vice Chancellor and Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences Mark Hussey will soon return to teaching after nearly a decade of leadership, during which he has been praised for shepherding one of the university's founding disciplines to new heights.
More than 100 A&M community members, including faculty and administrators, gathered at the AgriLife Center Monday evening to honor Hussey as he prepares to transition out of his leadership role and return to the faculty.
Speakers at the reception included A&M System Board of Regents Chairman Charles Schwartz, Chancellor John Sharp and President Michael K. Young. State Rep. John Raney presented Hussey with a proclamation honoring his years of service.
Hussey, who remained humble throughout the event, said although he may be stepping away from his leadership role, he looks forward to continuing on as a member of the faculty.
"It's been an honor for me to serve the Texas A&M University System, Texas A&M University and Texas A&M AgriLife as an agency director and as vice chancellor," Hussey said. "Please know that I am forever grateful for the many opportunities that each of you have afforded me over my career."
In addition to his service as vice chancellor and dean, Hussey also served as interim president of the College Station campus for 16 months starting in 2014 following the exit of R. Bowen Loftin from the job.
Schwartz -- who said Hussey's selection as interim president was one of the best votes he has cast in his time on the board -- praised Hussey for his contributions over the years.
"Few people in the history of A&M and the A&M System have done so much for our university and our system," he said. "Mark has had a profound effect on agriculture."
Under his leadership, Schwartz said, Hussey has led the construction of numerous major facilities, including four new buildings in the agriculture complex and a new plant pathology building -- all of which, Schwartz said, adds to the "vitality and viability of this endeavor, and is a source of pride not only for this university but for the entire state of Texas."
Sharp said in addition to the physical buildings that will stand as part of his legacy, Hussey's steady hand in helping guide agriculture research at the institution to a top spot internationally has been a great achievement.
"Nobody comes close to you guys," Sharp said.
He added that he has admiration for the "total dedication" Hussey showed to both the mission as well as those who worked for and with him and said he is sad to see him go.
"I will miss you a bunch," Sharp said. "I hope you stick around this place we call Aggieland."
Young said that he and the university community appreciate the leadership and service Hussey has given to both A&M and the state through the years, specifically citing the responses to recent natural disasters such as the Bastrop fires and Hurricane Harvey.
"At a moment when the state had extraordinary needs, the importance of this university and particularly this part of the university and the system that came under your control was truly remarkable," Young said. "It's something to be tremendously proud of."
Although the night was about him, Hussey was sure to point out his appreciation for the students, faculty and staff who he has had the privilege to work with.
"For those of you who are in this room tonight, this event is as much about you and your collective successes and sacrifices," Hussey said. "You are truly among the very best."
The A&M System Board of Regents announced in its meeting earlier this month that Hussey will be replaced by Cornell University professor and director of the school's Division of Nutritional Sciences Patrick J. Stover. In a statement released with the announcement, Stover said he looks forward to continuing to build on Hussey's leadership.
"The outstanding senior leadership team assembled and led by Chancellor Sharp -- combined with the commitment of Texas to higher education and with the service commitment of the Texas A&M System -- gives us the unprecedented opportunity to solve the most challenging problems facing agriculture, food, the environment and our Texas communities," Stover said in a statement. "I look forward to extending the reach of our teaching, research, service and extension programs to support our shared values."
Stover is set to step into the position March 1.