Interim President Linda Schott said she and A&M Chancellor John Sharp agreed on some priorities to take on during the presidential transition.
As former president Cynthia Teniente-Matson departed in January for a presidential position at San Jose State University in San Jose, California, Schott is looking at enrollment, university budget and a smooth presidential transition for her successor.
The interim president isn’t meant to stay long, with prospects for a permanent president being hired as soon as May, Schott said. Still, business carries on at A&M-San Antonio, with projects focused on employees and students at the forefront.
For enrollment, Schott said that means recruiting more students for the fall and retaining the current ones by providing excellent service and meeting needs.
“It’s also important for our budget,” she said in a Feb. 10 interview.
More credit hours offered at the university means a higher operating budget provided by the State of Texas. The state is holding its 88th legislative session through May 29.
“So representing the university before the legislature and doing the best I can to convince people to increase our funding, essentially,” Schott said, referring to her second priority.
Schott said the rising costs of products and energy, along with university operations, make costs higher for A&M-San Antonio.
“So we’re saying (to the state), increase that hourly rate to cover the increase in our costs so we don’t have to take cuts somewhere else,” Schott said.
Employee compensation, which is tied to resizing class sizes, is an idea recently introduced at Faculty Senate by provost Mohamed Abdelrahman.
Schott’s third priority is ensuring a smooth transition for her successor, a permanent university president to fill the shoes of Matson.
“I think often we just assume the campus keeps doing what it’s doing, and a new president comes in,” Schott said.
In a Feb. 8 email, A&M-San Antonio announced a Presidential Search Advisory Committee is in place to oversee the hiring process. This in addition to a third party executive search firm, WittKieffer.
The university “strongly encourages” anyone to submit nominations at TAMUSAPresident@wittkieffer.com. The name of the institution or organization where the nominee is employed is required. Additional comments are “helpful but not required.”
Schott said she has spent much time thinking about ways to prepare the university for a smooth relationship with the new president. She is preparing to meet with managers from around campus to work with their divisions.
For Schott, that means making a good impression on the new president and helping the new president get to know each division’s activities in a structured way.
She compared going into a new job to drinking out of a firehose — a lot of water is wasted. Schott said that’s what happens when so much information is dumped on the new hire at once.
Schott said she wants to approach issues and initiatives with a strategic lens without making permanent decisions that could negatively impact her successor. However, she believes there are ways to set the stage on certain issues.
“I will be encouraging people to think strategically about what information the president needs to know first, what do they need to know second, what can wait for a year, so that the new person can take that information in and process it in a useful way,” Schott said.