Noting that he will be the first Texas A&M International University president with the privilege to do so, Dr. Charles Jennett, A&M International president since 1996, announced his intention to retire effective Aug. 31, 2001 at the University's Spring Convocation Ceremonies Monday morning.
Surrounded by faculty, deans, administrators and The Texas A&M University System Chancellor, Howard Graves, Dr. Jennett shared his decision to retire from the A&M System.
"I have served as president of A&M International during a period of record growth in buildings, space, students, gifts and external grant funding. I personally hold the belief that one does their best work in the first five years in a presidency and it seems an appropriate time to inform you that I wish to retire as president of this fine University effective Aug. 31, 2001," Dr. Jennett said.
Chancellor Graves said the A&M System appreciates Dr. Jennett's leadership and progress at A&M International.
"We in the A&M System appreciate Dr. Jennett's outstanding leadership here at Texas A&M International University. We respect his decision to retire. Over the past five years, the University has made major progress in fulfilling its mission of educating students in Texas--especially South Texas. The development of the campus has advanced well under Dr. Jennett's leadership. We look forward to continuing to work with him during the upcoming legislative session and throughout the summer," Chancellor Graves said.
Jennett said that he is eager to work with the University through the Legislative Session and in a national search for his successor, but believes he is leaving the University in top form.
"The timing is perfect. We are finishing the 30th anniversary year of this University. Phase Three is being completed. Phase IV is enjoying strong support and we are confident about its funding. We fully expect to see accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, business school accreditation and our Ph.D. in International Business.
"My major goals when I came here in 1996 have been reached," he continued, "Over 90% of the major gifts to the University and virtually all of our endowment, over $12.5 million, have come to this University in these five years. Our Phase III was funded. Enrollment has grown 13.6%, we've added numerous new undergraduate or graduate degrees. Our faculty has grown in quality and prestige and we have been successful at improving teaching loads and salary structure. We've launched the independently funded D. D. Hachar Honors Program and helped over 2,600 students to bring their higher education dreams to reality."
Jennett said he is particularly pleased with the University's continued role as a community catalyst and its cohesion with community and political leadership.
"We have enjoyed remarkable cohesion with our community and political representatives and our campus and students have benefited tremendously from the partnership and shared vision of our State Senator Dr.Judith Zaffirini, our State Representative and now Secretary of State Dr. Henry Cuellar, and State Representative Tracy King, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and Drs. Joaquin and Ricardo Cigarroa, our City Mayor Betty Flores and County Judge Mercurio Martinez and The Texas A&M University System. The campus is clearly the most visible and engaged catalyst in the continued growth and success of our community and region, and we know this will continue. There is a great and lasting need for higher education in South Texas and A&M International is poised to address that need," he said.
Jennett said the decision was bittersweet, and he and his wife's affection for Laredo great, but both would like to begin to spend more time with their family and grandchildren all over the world. The Jennetts expect to remain in Laredo.
"Linda and I want all of to know that we love Laredo, its people, culture and especially the dedicated employees and students of Texas A&M International University. We have been blessed by the phenomenal support of this community and this University from day one. We are looking forward to spending quality time here and in the Hill Country and to visiting with our adult children and grandchildren and watching them grow," he said.
A civil engineer and educator, Jennett said he hopes to continue to be involved in his professional field, but expects to also continue his interest in higher education.
Jennett, the fourth president of Texas A&M International University, joined the University in 1996.
Before coming to A&M International, he was provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina. Before that, he was Dean of Engineering at Clemson. He also previously served as professor and chairman of the civil engineering department at Syracuse University.
He received his Ph.D. in environmental and water resources engineering from the University of New Mexico and earned a master's and bachelor's degrees in civil engineering from Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
A widely published scholar, Jennett is the coauthor of several chapters in academic textbooks on water resources engineering and many major journal articles.
An admired teacher and professional, Jennett has been selected in recent years as the outstanding educator of the year and the outstanding engineer of the year by the South Carolina Society of Professional Engineers and the Missouri Society of Professional Engineers. He also has been named an outstanding alumnus of the University of New Mexico.
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