December 20, 2013

Year 2013: Texas A&M Becomes Largest University in State, One Of Most Diversified In Nation

Texas A&M University grew in 2013 to become the largest institution of higher learning in Texas and now, with the acquisition of a law school and incorporation of the Texas A&M Health Science Center into its administrative structure, one of the most diversified and comprehensive in the nation—in addition to being one of the five largest.

Enrollment for the fall semester totaled a record 58,809, including 53,672 on the main campus—also an all-time high.

Even with a record 9,710-member freshman class, the average SAT score for those first-year students increased—from 1,182 to 1,184, a level that exceeds both state and national averages. Also, Texas A&M continues to be among the leaders in enrollment of National Merit Scholars, with approximately 400 currently in the student body.

Aggies are broadening their global and cultural perspectives at a record pace, with the number of them taking advantage of study-abroad opportunities surpassing the 3,300 level. Texas A&M is now among the leaders nationally in number of students studying abroad, ranking 13th, up eight spots from its placement in the previous such national assessment.

The Texas A&M Corps of Cadets in the fall semester attracted the largest number of students—men and women—since 1970.  With more than 2,400 cadets, it is the largest uniformed student organization in the nation and provides more officers for the armed services than any institution other than the service academies.  To accommodate its growth, the Corps reactivated two units for the second consecutive year. A study of fall-semester GPRs (grade point ratios) for Corps members averaged 2.891, the highest on record.

Another milestone came in graduating a record 12,289 during the calendar year. On that basis, the university is nearing its stated goal of graduating more than 12,500 students in an academic year–envisioned for attainment by 2015. The 12,289 record does not include degrees awarded at the branch campuses or the health science center.

The university’s investment in research—in endeavors that have economic applications as well as adding to the basic storehouse of knowledge—also reached record levels, now totaling more than $780 million, to rank first among Texas institutions and among the top 25 nationally. The university received major related good news in November when the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced Texas A&M would continue to manage operations for the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) with funding of up to $250 million over the next five years, plus as much as $87.5 million from other nations that participate in the global ocean drilling program.

A sampling of recent innovative research by university personnel can be viewed here.

Record Economic Impact

Growth and expansion were key factors in an in-house study released early in 2013 showing that the university and the parts of The Texas A&M University System based in the Bryan/College Station area accounted during the previous year for a record $4.3 billion impact on the local area and extending out into other parts of the state. The $4.3 billion estimate was based on the standard multiplier effect applied to  the $1.7 billion direct expenditures attributed to the institution, factoring in payrolls, student expenditures and what visitors spend when in the community to attend sports events and other university-associated activities.

“I like to think of us—the various parts of the A&M System based here and our host communities—as a mutually supportive ‘family,’ underscored most recently by our mutually beneficial agreement for community support for plans to expand Texas A&M’s Kyle Field,” Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp said in announcing results of the study. “We are blessed to live and work here, and we look forward to the future with high expectations of continued growth and prosperity, working hand-in-hand.”

National Rankings

Texas A&M continues to fare well in key national rankings, particularly those that emphasize a combination of high-quality education with affordability and how its graduates excel in their careers. It is the only public university in Texas to rank among the top 50 national universities in the “Great Schools, Great Prices” category of the 2014 ratings by U.S. News & World Report – and it maintained its second-place ranking overall in that key assessment of national public institutions. Texas A&M also was listed as a “best buy” in the 2014 edition of the Fiske Guide to Colleges, a publication created by former New York Times higher education editor Edward B. Fiske. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, in announcing its “top 100 best values” in public schools, ranked Texas A&M 18th nationally and tops in Texas. Washington Monthly ranked Texas A&M second among all U.S. universities—public or private—in its newest survey. That publication bases its ratings in large part on universities’ contributions to the public interest through endeavors such as service programs and research that drives economic growth. Texas A&M’s ranking by that publication is higher than for any other institution in Texas.

Athletic Successes

Athletically, 2013 was another good year for the Aggies. The university’s 16 sports teams combined in their successes for a record-high 5th place finish in the NACDA Learfield Directors’ Cup competition and second in the men’s Capital One Cup standings, the highest finish to date. The year started with the Aggie football team led by the then new reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Manziel, winning big over the University of Oklahoma at the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic and ended with the Aggies accepting an invitation to play Duke University in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.  The men’s track and field team won the NCAA outdoor championship, and the women were runners-up their category.  Most of the other teams fared well, too, with many of them participating in post-season NCAA completion and having nationally ranked finishes.

Record Level Of Support

Contributions to the university—by former students and other individuals, as well as by corporations and non-profit foundations—totaled a record $740 million for the 2012-13 fiscal year–the most ever for a 12-month period. Most of the donations—for a variety of needs and opportunities, including scholarships and other academic endeavors—came in the form of support by the Texas A&M Foundation, The Association of Former Students, the 12th Man Foundation and the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation. The latter relates to the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum being located on the Texas A&M campus.

New, Renovated Facilities

To accommodate its expanding enrollment and broadened research programs, the university brought on line several new facilities, including the first building constructed exclusively for the College of Liberal Arts, as well as a facility serving the health and kinesiology programs of the College of Education and Human Development. The first new residence hall to be built on campus since 1989, a facility that serves approximately 650 students, was opened, and plans were announced for construction of additional accommodations for approximately 4,000 students. Construction was initiated on a new equine complex that will serve the university’s related education, research and outreach programs, including serving as the new home for the equestrian team and Parson’s Mounted Cavalry. Also, work began on a new athletic training facility near the softball and soccer fields.

In a unique joint endeavor with The University of Texas at Austin, a library facility was opened on Texas A&M’s Riverside Campus. It has the capability to house more than a million volumes that no longer need to be readily available at the two institutions’ main campus libraries but can be easily accessed when needed—by faculty and students at those institutions as well as by counterparts at other institutions.

Renovation and expansion of Kyle Field began in early fall and picked up steam immediately following the last home football game for the season.  When the project is completed in time for the 2015 season, Kyle Field will accommodate more than 102,000 fans—making it the largest such stadium on any campus in Texas or the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Although work on the stadium will not be completed until 2015, it will be at a stage to accommodate all 2014 Aggie home games, officials emphasize. To make way for the expanded stadium, G. Rollie White Coliseum and the adjacent Read Building were demolished, as was the Netum Stead facility that formerly included a weight room for athletes.

Other major renovation projects are under way for the landmark Jack K. Williams Administration Building at the main entrance to the university and at nearby historic Scoates Hall, a classroom/office building.  After a year-long renovation that included significant upgrades, the university golf course reopened this fall amid fanfare citing it as one of the finest facilities of its type, particularly one on a university campus. Additional parking space will be provided on the northwest section of the campus following demolition of the Dulie Bell Building, the structure that for decades greeted motorists entering the main campus from the west via University Drive.

Even while growing and expanding, the university achieved significant levels of energy efficiency and reductions in greenhouse emissions—and received national recognition for its conservation accomplishments. With the implementation of a new combined heating power (CHP) system, the university was credited with cost-avoidance savings totaling millions of dollars. Concurrently, water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions are markedly lower and environmentally friendly methods of waste management have significantly increased the percentage of solid waste material that is recycled and kept out of the landfill.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) presented the university a major award for its energy and conservation efforts.

50th Anniversary Commemorations

inclusionLogoThe year also was marked by commemoration of significant milestones. It included the 50th anniversary of the elevation of the institution to “university” status, as well as the 50th anniversaries of the admission of women and African-American students. The latter milestones were highlighted by a semester-long series of “inclusion” celebrations, with a salute to the late Gen. Earl Rudder, who was president of the university when actions leading to those accomplishments were set in motion.

Law School Acquisition, Incorporation Of Health Science Center

Fulfilling a longstanding goal to offer jurisprudence degrees, Texas A&M acquired the Fort Worth law school formerly operated by Texas Wesleyan University and which is now formally named the Texas A&M University School of Law. Fall enrollment totaled 770, with 47 of them graduating earlier this month and receiving the first law-degree diplomas bearing the Texas A&M University name and seal.

The Texas A&M Health Science Center was formally incorporated into the university. Its College of Medicine was originally part of the university, but it subsequently formed the basis for establishment of the Health Science Center that operated as part of The Texas A&M University System. The HSC now also includes the School of Rural Public Health, the College of Nursing, the Texas A&M University Baylor  College of Dentistry (in Dallas) and the Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy (in Kingsville), with a combined enrollment of 2,417.

Bottom line:  2013 was another banner year for Texas A&M.

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Media Contact: Lane Stephenson, News & Information Services, at (979) 845-4662

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