Five commitments provide vision to guide College
The College of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University has embarked on a renewed mission to advance the liberal arts at a university long known for engineering and agriculture.
When college dean José Luis Bermúdez arrived in 2010, the university was half-way through its Vision 2020 initiatives, a set of goals prescribed to lead the land grant school to a top-ten berth among public universities by the year 2020. One of the most important of these goals was derived from a realization that the scholarly pursuit of liberal arts at this Texas flagship had to be elevated if the university was to achieve its objectives.
Raising the status of liberal arts is easier said than done at an institution known for over 100 years as an engineering and agriculture powerhouse. But support has come from everyone from the university’s president to the board of regents, and the college is well on its way to meeting the challenges.
“There is one thing that sets apart an excellent organization from one that is merely good,” said Bermúdez, “and that is a clear, far-reaching, and encompassing vision to which everyone is committed.” And so Bermúdez and the college set out to define that vision.
The result was a set of five commitments that emerged from the college’s strategic planning process, which presaged a number of initiatives now driving new investment in college academic programs.
The dean is clear about the fact that this renewed emphasis on fundamental principles requires redirection of energies and financial resources. He has reprioritized the allocation of existing funds and has set out an ambitious plan to improve the college’s future resources through marketing and gift development.
“Over the next three years, we plan to invest vigorously in all of the areas that will improve the standing of our college and work toward achieving the goals of Vision 2020,” said Bermúdez. “We are framing our vision and the strategies that will move us forward.”
While Bermúdez attests that the five commitments efficiently express the results of the college’s strategic planning efforts, to the faculty and staff the commitments also provide a clear vision of college priorities for achieving the next level of excellence.
“These five principles are true to the spirit of the original founders of Texas A&M and their desire to provide a complete education at a land grant school,” elaborated Margaret Ezell, a distinguished professor in the college’s English Department. “They have been updated to meet twenty-first century demands and student needs.”
The commitments are centered on five principles that the college must espouse to successfully advance its strategic objectives: laying the academic cornerstone of leadership in its students; bringing faculty research into the classroom; sustaining academic scholarship that is nationally recognized; valuing people; and being careful stewards of the money that taxpayers and donors provide.
The five commitments are taking their place on walls, desks, and tables throughout the college, as the dean spreads word about the vision for the college. Pocket cards prominently displaying the five commitments are already in the hands of faculty and staff and the dean has implemented a series of open meetings with faculty and staff to discuss strategy.
“These commitments express our desire and our responsibility to advance the College of Liberal Arts in ways that will make measurable strides towards the goals of Vision 2020,” said Bermúdez.
For more about the Texas A&M University’s College of Liberal Arts, visit liberalarts.tamu.edu.