Texas A&M

Brandon Mulder

Today Texas A&M officials announced EmpowerU, a program aimed at monitoring the system’s efficiency at graduating its students.

Essentially, EmpowerU is A&M’s new public analytical website. It aggregates statistics of all student progress, and presents its data online. The idea is that individual institutions will set their own goals for improvement. EmpowerU’s website will publicly hold them accountable to quality of education and cost efficiency, benchmarking peer institutions against each other.


Updated 4:15pm: The A&M campus is now reopened, according to the university's emergency website:

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

A shooting that left three dead in College Station on Monday did not occur on the campus of Texas A&M University or involve members of the A&M community. Yet in headlines around the country, it is being referred to as the "Texas A&M shooting."

With new students scheduled to move into A&M's residence halls on Sunday, this has left the university with a bit of a public relations problem that officials are scrambling to rectify.

"It’s extremely important for us that our new students coming into campus and their families understand that this is a very safe campus," said A&M spokesman Jason Cook. "We truly care about the safety of our students and we have many, many safety measures in place."


Justice Department Supports UT’s Admissions Process

The Obama Administration says the University of Texas at Austin's consideration of race in admitting students is constitutional. 

The U.S. Justice Department revealed its support in a brief filed yesterday with the U.S. Supreme Court. The Department says UT does not use race as an absolute deciding factor and that it comes into play in relatively few admission decisions.

Supreme Court justices will hear arguments on the case, known as Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin in October. Abigail Fisher is challenging the university’s admission policy, claiming that she was denied admission to UT in 2008 because she is white.

Update 5 (4:48 p.m.): An afternoon shooting in College Station has left three people dead, including a law officer, the shooter, and an apparent bystander. 

Constable Brian Bachman was killed while serving an eviction notice at a home near the Texas A&M campus. Neighbors heard the gunshots and called College Station police. An ensuing shootout left two more officers wounded.  

The suspect, whose name has not been released, died later of his injuries. Reports of gunfire led University officials to issue a Code Maroon -- alerting students of the shooting and telling them to take cover until the situation was under control.

A&M's Outsourcing Plans Have Workers Concerned

Jul 27, 2012
Callie Richmond for Texas Tribune

When the Texas A&M University System announced that its flagship would gain $260 million in new revenue and savings in the next 10 years by outsourcing its building maintenance, landscaping and dining services, Chancellor John Sharp said the plan was an unprecedented way to raise money in financially struggling higher education.

“Today’s announcement means more money will be available to recruit, pay and retain faculty and researchers,” he said at a news conference on June 21.

But excitement over the plan is not universal. Many people on campus and in the surrounding community are worried and angry. A&M staff members who perform the support services have expressed concern over their future employment. And Bryan-College Station vendors fret that they could lose one of their biggest clients.

Courtesy Cowden Family

Texans Victims of Colorado Shooting

An Austin native was one of the 12 people killed in Friday’s shooting at a Colorado movie theater.

Gordon Cowden, 51, of Aurora, took his two teenage children to the midnight premiere. They were not injured.

Cowden’s family described him as a “true Texas gentleman.” They say he was a “loving father, outdoorsman and small business owner.”


When Texas A&M left the Big 12, many assumed the rivalry between the Aggies and the Longhorns left with it.

Now the two Texas colleges are facing off again, but this time there’s a chance both schools – and the public –  could win. Yesterday, UT-Austin and Texas A&M were awarded grant money from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop cheaper natural gas vehicles.

UT’s Center for Electromechanics received more than $4 million to engineer new ways to refuel natural gas cars at home.

Texas Tribune

According to Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp, a law school is "one of the few things that have been missing from A&M for a very long time."

That era is coming to a close.

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

A Texas A&M University System-led team has won a major federal contract to develop one of three new national centers — the only one led by a public university system — for developing and manufacturing medicine and vaccines to respond to pandemic diseases and bioterror threats.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the contract on Monday. The other contracts were awarded to Emergent BioSolutions in Baltimore and Novartis in North Carolina.

After the H1N1 flu pandemic of 2009, federal officials realized the need to significantly improve the speed of its response to pandemics. These three centers are expected to be the lead responders in the event of a major national biological outbreak, whatever the cause. The center in College Station is expected to first come online in December 2015.

Voting photo by KUT News; Qatar photo by Emre Rende, via The Texas Tribune; Friedman photo courtesy flickr.com/i8nastyman

Last Day of Early Voting

Today is the last day of early voting for the Texas Primaries. So far 27,539 Travis county voters, 4.6 percent of the eligible voting population have cast their ballots. Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir anticipates a busy day at the polls.

“We won’t be surprised to see two to three times the number of votes cast on the final day of Early Voting compared to the first days of the period," says DeBeauvoir.

Voters are reminded that most polls will close by 6 p.m. today. Election day is May 29.

Photo by cperez1104 http://www.flickr.com/photos/42757072@N00/

A rivalry that has lasted more than a century could come to an end on Friday night the University of Texas and Texas A&M University football teams square off. That’s because the Aggies are moving from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference next season.

Photo by mikel_duke http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikelduke/

Chalk up another casualty of the Texas drought: Texas A&M University’s annual student bonfire was called off because of a burn ban in Robertson County. It’s the second year in a row that Aggie students havehad to cancel the towering 45 foot inferno.

“We’ve been under severe drought conditions now for a year,” Michelle Haver, a court coordinator for the Robertson county judge, told StateImpact Texas a joint reporting project of KUT and NPR.

As the bonfire’s website explains, the stack site will be open to visitors, but “under no circumstances” will they start a fire.

Photo by KUT News

For the time being, it seems, Texas A&M will not be leaving the Big 12 for the SEC.

Over the weekend, the presidents and chancellors of all twelve SEC institutions met and released a statement 'reaffirming their satisfaction with the present 12 institutional arrangement.' They did, however, leave the door open to future expansion. 

Photo by KUT News

Perry Targets Iowa

Governor Rick Perry will be making numerous campaign stops in Iowa in the next few days. The presidential hopeful entered the race on Saturday, and is now vying against other GOP hopefuls.

KUT's political reporting partner, The Texas Tribune, reports on how Perry is handling his controversial decision in 2007 to mandate that some young girls receive an HPV vaccine.

University of Texas campus
Image by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

We're beginning to see the consequences of state budget cuts at Texas' public universities. The Chronicle of Higher Education's Katherine Mangan reports today how more than 130 tenured professors at the University of Texas and Texas A&M University have accepted buyouts.

While the early retirements are expected to save nearly $18 million annually, they also carry administrative consequences for their colleges, Mangan reports.

Texas A&M University recently barred its employees from telling students to file open records requests under the state's public information act. Now, a group of fifteen journalism organizations is weighing in on the debate.

A letter from the groups, posted on the Poynter journalism blog, accuses the University of using a "potentially illegal" policy to "squelch investigations by its own students."

Stevie Ray Vaughn in the storm
Image courtesy Stuck in Customs http://www.flickr.com/photos/stuckincustoms/

The Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos area added 17,700 jobs over the last 12 months, according to statistics released this morning by the Texas Workforce Commission. But because the size of the labor force also grew, the unemployment rate actually edged upwards to 7.1 percent in November 2010 compared to 7 percent in November 2009.

Greg Coleman
Image courtesy Kate Sheets http://www.flickr.com/photos/katesheets

The first Solicitor General of Texas, Greg Coleman, died in a plane crash yesterday when the Piper PA-46 Malibu he was flying in went down as the pilot tried to land it at an airport in Destin, Fla.