COLLEGE STATION, TX — Texas A&M’s newest president, Dr. M. Katherine Banks, has spent her first two weeks in office growing acquainted with the school’s many colleges and programs, and dreaming big for Aggieland’s future.
“Students are the heart of this university," Banks said. "I say that often, and I mean it.”
Banks has a long tenure with Texas A&M, previously serving as Vice Chancellor of Engineering and Laboratories, and as dean of the College of Engineering. She will continue to lead engineering efforts, such as the school’s involvement with the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the Bush Combat Development Complex at the RELLIS campus. But, Banks said she knows her service now extends far beyond just the interests of engineering.
“It will take me time to learn everything about each of the colleges," she noted. "But, I’ve been here for ten years. I’ve interacted with students not only in engineering, but across campus. I've interacted with deans across campus for the last ten years as well.”
Banks enters her position during a time of major growth for Texas A&M, and she’s cognizant of the cultural progression the university hopes to make as well. Banks announced that A&M's recent Diversity, Equity and Inclusion [DEI] report on campus climate contains action items that will be carried out with $25 million in backing. Banks hopes, however, to continue to speak not just with leadership, but to gauge the concerns of students.
“I was very lucky on the first day to be able to eat lunch with students," she relayed. "That was the first group I wanted to talk to about really what it meant to be an Aggie, to them. Do they see areas that we should improve? Could I support them in their leadership challenges?”
Banks commented that she is happy students and professors will begin this fall semester in classes, in-person, once again. She faces a unique set of circumstances taking on the presidency at the tail end of a pandemic.
“In many ways we have two classes of first year students, because the first year students of last year did not have the opportunity of what is a more typical, normal fall semester," Banks said.
According to the university, Dr. Banks was selected by a 15 member search committee. She is the 26th president of Texas A&M, and the second woman to hold this office in the school’s history. Chancellor John Sharp, who was part of the search committee, commented that he believes Banks will make history in Aggieland.
“I’m very confident that in five or ten years from now, people will say that she is the best president in the history of Texas A&M university,” said Sharp.