Regents Show Support for Texas A&M Athletic Director
BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents approved several items Thursday, including improvements to an aging academic building, personnel moves at some of the highest levels within System as well as adding a large project for student athletes to the capital plan.
The largest capital project on the regents’ agenda is a plan to improve the Bright Complex at Texas A&M University. The project is expected to include a new academic center that will provide student athletes with educational support programs. The facility also is expected to be equipped to help students with their training for intercollegiate competition, and it is planned to have nutritional and mental health support facilities, too.
The multi-faceted project also is slated to bring a new indoor football building, modernized locker rooms and a few new premium suites at the south end of Kyle Field.
A new training and competition venue for the indoor track program is also part of the plan. The updated venue could be central for Texas A&M as it continues to produce world-class track and field athletes, like the 12 current and former ones who competed in the Tokyo Olympics.
“This project will re-establish Texas A&M as a leading host site for the highest levels competition,” John Sharp, chancellor of the Texas A&M System, said. “But perhaps even more important than boosting Texas A&M’s exposure on the national scene, this project will provide our students athletes with the tools they need to achieve their goals in the workplace after college.”
The total cost of the Bright Area Development is $205 million, much of which will come from gifts and licensing fees. The Regents will need to vote final approval once the designs for the project are completed.
The regents also approved $28 million for a new administrative and classroom facility for the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service. At the Brayton Fire Training Field and Disaster City operations, TEEX trainers educated more than 200,000 first responders in fiscal year 2019. To grow the revenue-earning programs, the Board of Regents voted to create an expanded facility. The new facility is expected to include state-of-the-art training areas, updated classrooms and consolidated office spaces for administrators. Construction on this project is scheduled to start in December 2021 with substantial completion scheduled for May 2023.
Another major project approved by the board involves Aston Hall at Texas A&M University in College Station. Originally constructed in 1975, Aston Hall needs a major update. Construction on this project is scheduled to start in December 2021 with substantial completion scheduled for July 2022. The total project budget is nearly $4.8 million, which represents a decrease from the initial estimate of $6.6 million.
Regents also approved an item that demonstrated their commitment to cutting edge research and continued growth in service to the community. The Industrial Distribution Department in the College of Engineering at Texas A&M is expected to get a new building to consolidate its Talent Incubator, Sales Excellence Laboratory and Industry Capstone programs. The new IDB will be a stand-alone facility located on the RELLIS Campus. Construction of the project is scheduled to start in December 2021 with substantial completion scheduled for March 2023. The total project budget is $20 million.
The regents also made major personnel moves. They started by appointing Dr. Amy Swinford as director of Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory. They also named Dr. Joe Elabd as Vice Chancellor of Research for the System.
Texas A&M Athletic Director Ross Bjork was also on the board’s agenda. Regents approved an item authorizing a new employment contract for Bjork, who began his position on July 8, 2019. Since Bjork will be overseeing an aggressive facilities renewal program over the next five years – and the board noted the importance of maintaining a sense of continuity in the Athletic Department – regents approved a measure to boost Bjork’s salary to place him in the top three among athletic directors in the Southeastern Conference.
About The Texas A&M University System
The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $9.6 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities, a comprehensive health science center, eight state agencies, and the RELLIS Campus, the Texas A&M System educates more than 153,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceed $1 billion and help drive the state’s economy.
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