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Texas A&M President Michael Young says he will retire May 31 to return to faculty

Texas A&M provides students with clearer picture of campus changes
Texas A&M provides students with clearer picture of campus changes

Michael K. Young has been president at Texas A&M University since 2015. Credit: Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Texas A&M University President Michael Young will retire at the end of the academic school year, he said in a letter obtained by The Texas Tribune.

His retirement is expected to take effect May 31, 2021, after which he will assume a newly created role as director of the school’s Institute for Religious Liberties and International Affairs within the Bush School of Government and Public Service.

“With the academic year now underway, I remain confident in our ability to ensure that Texas A&M remains on its upward trajectory as a world class university while continuing to provide exceptional transformational education for our students,” Young said in the letter sent Tuesday to John Sharp, A&M System chancellor. “I am enormously proud of our tremendous faculty, our students and our dedicated staff, and know that they will continue to move this great university forward for many years to come.”

Young joined the university as president in 2015. Sharp recruited Young in his previous position as president and tenured professor of law at the University of Washington. The Harvard Law graduate also taught at the George Washington University Law School and was a Columbia University professor for more than two decades.

Last year, The Texas Tribune reported that Young’s five-year employment contract with the university would not be renewed upon expiry in April 2020. Instead, Young would join other campus heads who depend on annual appointment letters and system policy to govern the terms of his employment.

In a letter Sharp sent to Young at the time, the college president was told the change was “in no way a reflection” of his performance.

Young’s five-year agreement guaranteed him $1 million in annual pay. The seven-figure earning made Young the highest-compensated university president in Texas in 2017 and among the top dozen nationwide, according to a ranking compiled by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Young has been in talks with the administration about shifting responsibilities for months.

On Feb. 3, Sharp wrote a letter to Elaine Mendoza, chairperson of the board of regents — the governing body for the Texas A&M System — noting the plans for Young’s new role.

“Young has expressed a desire to retire and return to teaching and research as a tenured faculty member of the Bush School,” Sharp wrote in another letter obtained by the Tribune.

“The creation of the Institute not only achieves President Young’s desires, it also will allow for an orderly transition from President Young to his eventual successor,” Sharp wrote.

The February letter stated that a search committee process would commence once Young announced his retirement plans in September.

“Our hope is to have the new President chosen and in office by June 1, 2021,” Sharp wrote at the time.

In January, Young was on a short list of 30 finalists who applied for the top position at the University of Colorado System and went on to interview with the school's board of regents. Young was among 11 applicants who were selected for in-person interviews. He was not selected for the job.

Disclosure: Texas A&M University and the Texas A&M University System have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.