The A&M System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $3.2 billion in FY 2010. Through a statewide network of eleven universities, seven state agencies, and a comprehensive health science center, the A&M System educates more than 109,000 students and employs more than 27,000 people. An A&M System office can be found in 250 of the 254 counties in Texas. Externally funded research brings in over $650 million every year and helps drive the state's economy. System members currently have over $707 million in construction projects underway to expand the facilities and services available to students, faculty, and staff. The A&M System is a diverse and complex entity that presents a range of opportunities and challenges on a day-to-day basis. It is these challenges that are the focus of the investigations function of the Special Projects practice area.
The A&M System members aspire to conduct their activities in a diligent, safe, lawful, and ethical manner. When they may have fallen short of these standards the Office of General Counsel (OGC) is often called upon to investigate the matter, report to management and governmental agencies, and suggest corrective action. This office has participated in investigations involving student and employee deaths, large-scale property losses, civil rights violations, biological safety and radiation exposure incidents, and allegations of unethical conduct.
"At the outset we note that state colleges and universities are not enclaves immune from the sweep of the First Amendment." Healy v. James, 408 U.S. 169, 180 (1972) Accord Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School Dist., 393 U.S. 503, 506 (1969) ("It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.")
State and federal legislative matters fall within this practice area.
Through TrainTraq, the System presents on-line training on Creating a Discrimination-Free Workplace; Ethics; Information Security Awareness; Orientation to the A&M System; and Reporting Fraud, Waste and Abuse. To supplement this mandatory and recurring system-wide training, OGC has a library of existing training modules available for presentation by experienced attorneys. Additionally, OGC can design a custom presentation for a subject matter of specific interest to your institution or agency.
Jerry M. Brown, Managing Counsel
David Halpern, Assistant General Counsel
Melissa Parker, Legal Assistant
Dana Sweet, Legal Secretary