Following Texas A&M President Michael K. Young’s decision to step down from his position effective Dec. 31, aerospace engineering professor John L. Junkins will serve as interim president on the recommendation of Chancellor John Sharp.
“Today I accepted Michael K. Young’s resignation as President, effective December 31, 2020,” Sharp wrote in a release from the university. “I want to thank him for his service to Texas A&M University and I look forward to seeing him fulfill his passion to create an institute addressing the issues of religious freedom and international affairs.”
Young announced on Sept. 2 the 2020-2021 school year would be his final year as A&M president, with May 2021 as his expected retirement date. He said his decision to end his tenure as president one semester early is to begin working to develop A&M’s new Institute for Religious Liberties and International Affairs where he will serve as director.
"After a quarter of a century in senior academic leadership roles, I find myself increasingly drawn to return to the passions that drew me to a career in higher education in the first place," Young said in his announcement. "I have become particularly excited to soon become immersed as a full-time member of the faculty of the Bush School of Government and Public Service, as well as the School of Law, and again work on the issues that have engaged me for much of my career, especially issues related to religious freedom and international affairs."
Junkins said in a release from the university that he found out about Young's decision last Thursday and was asked to serve as interim president at the same time. He said he will work with Young to make the transition by January.
"My job will be to help navigate Texas A&M safely along our presently planned course and work with existing senior leadership and the faculty to solve problems as they arise until our new president takes the helm, hopefully by June," Junkins wrote.
Junkins is a distinguished professor of aerospace engineering and holds the Royce E. Wisenbaker Chair in Innovation in the College of Engineering. Junkins is also the founding director of the Hagler Institute of Advanced Study.
Junkins joined the A&M faculty in 1985 as the first endowed chair holder in the College of Engineering following academic appointments at the University of Virginia and the Virginia Polytechnic Institute.
“Dr. Junkins is an accomplished researcher, outstanding teacher and an innovator whose Institute has transformed our faculty,” Sharp wrote. “He also will bring a steady hand to the tiller to ensure that Texas A&M successfully navigates the next few months until a successor is named.”
An email obtained by The Battalion sent by Sharp to the Chancellor's Century Council says the national search for President Young's successor is "going well" and he hopes to have the person in place by June 1.