The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Leadership changes respond to University growth, budget cuts

President Maria Hernandez Ferrier speaks Aug. 13 about the recent administrative changes in the University’s leadership, which were made this summer to redirect some of the president’s workflow to her new Chief of Staff Dr. Charles “Chuck” Rodriguez, also vice president for strategic planning and military affairs. Ferrier said that in order to bring funding and visibility to the University, she has to spend more time out in the community.  Photo by Melody Mendoza

By Laura De Leon and Melody Mendoza

As Texas A&M-San Antonio continues to develop, changes are occurring in the University’s leadership to benefit the student body and accommodate for recent budget cuts.

In an interview Aug. 13, President Maria Hernandez Ferrier said administrative changes are taking place because the campus is growing and she wants to make sure the University is offering the best education possible.

“The organizational changes, though they do not touch you directly, they benefit you,” Ferrier said of students.

Kenneth Mitts, the first vice president of finance and administration, chief financial officer and now interim vice president of student affairs, said administrators have decided to align the University leadership team with other members of The Texas A&M University System.

The changes, he said, are due in part to unprecedented growth. Budget cuts were also a factor.

“With recent budget cuts, it is imperative for the University to streamline and make an effort to consolidate administrative functions starting at the top with the University’s leadership where many will take on additional roles and responsibilities,” Mitts said in an email Aug. 8.

In addition, the Texas A&M System supported a new chief of staff position that began in July, as well as title changes, the merging of departments and the addition of responsibilities.

Dr. Charles “Chuck” Rodriguez, now chief of staff, is also vice president of strategic planning and military affairs, creating a new office that will provide operational coordination, mission focus and military embracing services. According to the University website, Rodriguez will coordinate organization across the campuses to improve efficiencies and ensure unity of effort.

Rodriguez’s team members include Melissa Molina, Lisa Pena, Jacquelyn Longoria, Joy Hutchison, Richard Delgado, Jr., and Douglas Carter.

“It’s not about a chain of command, it’s about a chain of information and coordination,” Rodriguez said in regards to his chief of staff position.

Addressing faculty and staff, Ferrier wrote in a July 23 email that she was “pleased to announce some organizational changes that will help take us to the next level.”

An executive team, or ET, was put into place, which Rodriguez said will deviate some of the president’s workflow. In other words, the vice presidents are assembled to absorb some of the responsibilities that previously were handled solely by the office of the president. The team will consist of Ferrier, Mitts, Rodriguez, and Brent Snow, provost and vice president of academic affairs.

The team will create a balance with interests and an active communication system. Rodriguez said that they will work together and advise Ferrier as she makes decisions.

“She is the ultimate decision maker, but the ET is her ‘close in’ advisory crew,” Rodriguez said.

Before the formation of the executive team, Ferrier met frequently with the executive cabinet, which was larger. Rodriguez said that the small size of the executive team is easier to assemble and communication has improved by identifying high priorities.

A&M-San Antonio’s organizational chart was revised in August to reflect department restructuring and leadership changes. Click to enlarge. Graphic courtesy of institutional advancement and university communications
An updated organizational chart illustrates the new administrative structure. The chart, which was updated in August, shows the top tier of administrative functions.Ferrier said the chief of staff position, which sits directly under the president, will allow her to meet her obligations outside the University. “I felt like we needed to be large enough to warrant me having a chief of staff,” adding that the decision was supported by the Texas A&M System.Both Ferrier and Rodriguez said that the chief of staff position is common in the A&M System governance structure. Most university presidents have a chief of staff in place.“I have spent a lot of time internally, and I will continue to do that,” Ferrier said, “but in order to bring funding to the University, visibility to the University, I have to spend more time out in the community than I’m able to do when I’m running the day-to-day operations.”

“This is a time when we have to be very prudent economically,” Ferrier said. “So there are times when you really have to look at the big picture.”

In addition to the new position, Mitts will take over the responsibilities of Dr. Mary Ann Grams, former vice president of student affairs. Faculty and staff received an email from the office of the president July 18 stating that Mitts would serve as CFO and vice president of finance and administration and interim vice president of student affairs, effective immediately.

Ferrier said rather than hiring someone quickly, Mitts will serve as interim vice president of student affairs until she knows she has the right person for the position. Ferrier said the University will conduct a nationwide search for a new associate vice president for student affairs.

“[Mitts] is an incredible leader; he is a person who is bottom line for our students,” she said. “And plus, he was always looking into student affairs and saying, ‘Wow, how can we make it better?’ ”

Also, two departments have merged — institutional advancement and university communications — making Marilu Reyna the associate vice president for institutional advancement and university communications.

Reyna will continue her duties directing areas of public relations. This office will provide the following services: fundraising, donor relations, President’s Circle, foundation and corporate relations, public relations, marketing, communications, special events and multimedia.

Team members include Marilu Reyna, Melissa Gonzales, Miki Rubio, April Esquivel, Anthony Alcoser, Jillian Reddish and Brandon Oliver.

In regards to recent administrative changes, Ferrier said there are times when you have to ask what makes sense — “What helps to further and help our students?”

“The bottom line is we want to give our student the best product possible, and that’s the best possible education that we can give you,” she said.

About the Author

Laura de Leon
Laura de Leon is the Campus News Editor for The Mesquite. She reports on Faculty Senate, the Student Government Association and campus growth and development. Laura is a communication-journalism major and minoring in business. A 2005 graduate of Highlands High School, she attended the University of Alaska in Fairbanks and Palo Alto College where she wrote for The Pulse and received associate’s degrees in journalism and liberal arts.

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