By Mesquite Editorial Board
A newly-formed presidential search committee must find an experienced leader to shepherd this university on the path to a dramatic period of expected growth and development. And it has just 6 weeks to do it.
Founding president Maria Hernandez Ferrier will leave in December to oversee A&M system relationships with Mexico.
The committee sat down on campus for its first meeting last Monday to organize and begin screening the applicant pool. It must recommend three by December to the A&M Board of Regents which will make the final selection.
The search prospectus demands the new president have business skills, vision and energy to work through this university’s unique challenges and opportunities.
For starters, the new leader must transform a 2-year upper division institution into a 4-year one. A&M system leaders have moved up the once distant objective of downward expansion to a fall 2016 deadline.
That will require the new president to oversee expanding the curriculum, hiring faculty and growing student support staff. It will also demand squeezing dollars from the Texas legislature for more buildings to accommodate the growth. The A&M system projects the university will climb from the present 4,500 enrollment to about 12,000 over the next 10 years.
Andres Holliday, Student Government Association president and presidential search committee student representative, said the next president must have business savvy and relevant experience to oversee university development and nurture business growth near the campus.
“A business aspect is going to be vital especially when we’re trying to expand in the way we’re going,” he said.
We also urge the committee to recommend leaders who will commit to placing a higher priority on student life in the next few years. Students here could benefit from recreation facilities, athletics, dorms, varied food options nearby, and other elements we expect from the full university experience.
Outgoing president Ferrier ran the first leg of the university’s development relay in style. She presided over the birth of an upper division university. She led a 216 percent enrollment jump from 2009 to 2012. More recently, she helped persuade the legislature to pay for three beautiful new buildings.
Before her December departure, Ferrier hopes to see university accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Universities. This will establish Texas A&M University-San Antonio as fully independent, degree-granting institution.
Our next leader will need to hit the ground running to build on Ferrier’s successes and to keep the momentum in our race to the top.