In a move to reevaluate and potentially reverse major changes implemented during former President Kathy Banks’ tenure, Texas A&M University has released a report outlining concerns raised by faculty and staff regarding the “Path Forward” initiative.
The initiative, introduced by Banks, aimed to bring significant changes to the institution but was met with widespread dissatisfaction and controversy. Banks retired abruptly in July amid a hiring scandal, leaving the university’s new leadership to address the aftermath.
The report, titled the “Quick-Look Assessment of the Path Forward Implementation,” is based on feedback gathered from over 100 meetings with university employees.
Texas A&M report details concerns
It provides a comprehensive overview of the challenges and criticisms surrounding the Path Forward plan and serves as a blueprint for potential revisions.
Among the key findings highlighted in the report are concerns about confusion, lack of collaboration, and transparency issues created by the Path Forward initiative.
According to the assessment team composed of Texas A&M administrators, the rapid and extensive changes in university structures and systems, coupled with inadequate communication and transparency, placed employees in difficult situations and hindered their success.
This often resulted in processes being delayed or halted and difficulties in identifying points of contact within the university.
The Path Forward initiative was unveiled in December 2021, shortly after Kathy Banks assumed the presidency.
The plan, developed in partnership with MGT Consulting, proposed various contentious changes, including the merger of the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Science, and the College of Geosciences into a new College of Arts and Sciences.
It also entailed restructuring administrative positions, including those within the provost’s office, and a reorganization of the university library, which involved stripping librarians of their tenure.
Controversy surrounding the plan emerged early on, with some insiders claiming that Banks had significant influence over the plan’s development.
According to an anonymous source within the university, Banks reportedly dictated her preferences to MGT Consulting and intended to use the consultants’ reports to justify her decisions.
Responding to these claims, a spokesperson for MGT Consulting stated that the organization had conducted surveys among Texas A&M community members in 2021 and conducted over 60 interviews with key stakeholders over a three-month period to prepare the report.