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Professor recruits scholars

Says institute needs $200 million endowment

Published: Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 23:07

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Professor recruits scholars

Says institute needs $200 million endowment

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John Junkins, distinguished professor of aerospace engineering, was named director of the Texas Institute for Advanced Study. 

The institute will seek to help all colleges on campus attract nationally and internationally accomplished faculty fellows who will propose research and scholarly activities with professors.

Junkins said the proposal for TIAS has been in the making for more than a decade after Vision 2020 was set in motion. The idea emerged from faculty and was approved by the Board of Regents last year.

 “The activities will involve multiple graduate students — funded by fellowships — and several undergraduate students for each faculty fellow,” Junkins said. “The goals are several, however the main goal is to greatly enrich the talent pool of extremely accomplished scholars to enhance the quality of our academic and research programs.”

The institute aims to attract academic scholars such as Nobel laureates, members of the National Academies, and Guggenheim awardees. Faculty fellows will be announced mid-semester in fall. 

Junkins said the institute currently has funds of $2 million a year for five years but will need an endowment of about $200 million for the project to prosper.

“The endowment for the institute will be a significant part of the overall capital campaign that is anticipated for the University to undertake in the next few years,” Junkins said. “The attractiveness of TIAS for endowment will depend on the success achieved during the early years of operation.”

Vice President for Research and Chief Research Officer for the System Jeffrey R. Seemann said the primary challenge of the institute will be meeting the high expectations Texas A&M has set for the success of TIAS.

“Creating a new, highly visible, highly energetic, fully engaged organization requires time, commitment and resources,” Seemann said. “We must recruit truly outstanding faculty fellows and assure a high level of engagement with faculty and students at Texas A&M.” 

Seemann said through the institute TIAS faculty fellows will engage in meaningful interactions with current faculty, while providing new educational and research opportunities for students. He said the ideas and relationships from these collaborations will elevate Texas A&M’s prestige as a Tier 1 research institution and to achieving consensus status as a top 10 public research university by 2020. 

“With ongoing campus-wide support and the leadership of individuals like Dr. John Junkins, as well as members of the advisory board and the administrative council, I am confident that we have the elements in place to enable TIAS to overcome any hurdles it may encounter in the future,”  Seemann said.

Christine Woods, junior computer science major, said she hopes the institute can continue in raising the academic standards at the University.

 “Some of the top scholars in the world are Aggies and I think it’s great that we are creating an institute to lead students to more extraordinary achievements,” Wood said.

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