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On June 1, 2021, Dr. M. Katherine Banks assumed the Texas A&M University presidency and effectively hit the ground running. Her nine years as dean of the College of Engineering, characterized by methodical leadership and energetic fundraising, well familiarized her with the Aggie community’s values, traditions, needs and ambitions.

Under her leadership, Texas A&M secured a $200 million initiative with the U.S. Army and the State of Texas to create the George H.W. Bush Combat Development Complex, was selected to manage the $2.5 billion contract for Los Alamos National Laboratory and constructed the cutting-edge Zachry Engineering Education Complex.

During preparations for her whirlwind first semester as president, Banks answered questions about herself and the university’s past, present and future, emphasizing her commitment to building upon Aggieland’s historic strengths.

You first arrived at Texas A&M in 2012. What struck you most about the university and its community?

Aggies are remarkably loyal. If you think about it, students only spend four or so years on campus—only a small portion of their lives. But they leave with an unmatched dedication to this institution and their fellow Aggies. It’s just amazing.

Texas A&M University President Dr. M. Katherine Banks

Do you have set goals for your first few years in office?

We must center any goal or plan for the university’s future within our Aggie core values and Texas A&M’s rich traditions. I spent the summer embarking on a comprehensive review of the university's operations and engaging with current and former students.

I aim to develop an administrative structure that is effective, efficient and flexible while directing valuable resources toward the university's mission and success of students, faculty and staff. While exact goals are not yet fully developed, I know we must build on our academic excellence, enhance the student experience and meet our commitments to the state.

Growing up in rural Kentucky, even though your father graduated from college, you were not strongly encouraged or prepared to earn a college degree. Has your personal experience influenced your perspective on building a university where nontraditional and first-generation students can thrive?

Absolutely. I understand firsthand the challenges that some of our students face as they consider pursuing a college degree. Texas A&M has historically had a large percentage of first-generation students—just consider the many challenges overcome by Aggie graduates from the very beginning, as students who did not have easy paths to college. As a land-grant university, we have an obligation to connect with excellent students with potential in all communities. It’s who we are.

In leading the College of Engineering, you took an active role in fundraising efforts. What did that experience teach you about philanthropy’s role on campus and in education at large?

State funds and tuition are critical to our operations, but simply do not address all the university’s needs to deliver a top-tier education. A great university cannot exist without a strong endowment and private support from generous donors. We have a state constitutional responsibility to be a university of the “first class,” and it will take every dollar we can generate to sustain this charge for such a large and impactful state.

When I traveled throughout the country raising funds for the College of Engineering, I was so impressed by our former students’ loyalty and desire to support students. We have such a great story to share, and there is so much more we can do together to move the needle.

Imagine Texas A&M 10 years from now. What do you see?

A university that is globally recognized as best in class. A first-choice university for talented students. A university with a unified sense of purpose, a unique commitment to core values and traditions, and a deep connection to its intersecting communities. A university making a difference in people’s lives with an immense and impactful former student network. Bottom line: Aggies supporting Aggies and changing the world.

  • Dunae Reader '15

  • Assistant Director of Marketing & Communications/Spirit Editor/Maroon Co-Editor
  • Call: 979.321.6343

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