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Texas A&M University to establish a Graduate and Professional School

Published on Thu 12/03/20

Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young and Provost and Executive Vice President Carol A. Fierke have approved a proposal to transition the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies (OGAPS) into a Graduate and Professional School (GPS) effective January 1, 2021. Karen L. Butler-Purry, the current Associate Provost for Graduate and Professional Studies, has been named Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate and Professional School.
Building on improvement
Butler-Purry sought this change based on the institutional priority as stated in the 2020-2025 Strategic Plan to elevate graduate and professional education. “Over the last ten years,” she said, “the efforts of our outstanding students, staff, and faculty have led to significant improvement and growth. This shift will enable us to continue to build on that momentum and strengthen our support for the graduate and professional community.” 
Exploring the establishment of a Graduate and Professional School began in May 2018. OGAPS first consulted with an independent research firm and graduate education leaders at peer institutions to identify the best graduate education operational models. After submitting a proposal for the change, OGAPS convened a task force consisting of faculty, staff, graduate students, and administrators to gather input from university stakeholders on the establishment of a graduate school and the model that would work best for Texas A&M. 
Expanding services
The Graduate and Professional School will continue current OGAPS operations, with some changes in areas of marketing, graduate interdisciplinary degree program operations, and university-level administrative oversight and enhancements in governance structure. Three Graduate School Task Force subcommittees—one each for master’s, doctoral, and first-professional doctoral programs—convened this fall to further explore ways to advance graduate and professional education.
“I am elated that the university has decided to make an additional investment in graduate and professional education,” said Butler-Purry. “It gives us a chance to expand services to improve student experiences, make structural and policy changes based on best practices, elevate the quality of all of our graduate programs, better integrate doctoral and faculty research, and support the professional advancement of our graduates and employees.”
A new space
To support the expansion of operations, the Graduate and Professional School office has moved from the Jack K. Williams building to Nagle Hall in the heart of the College Station campus. “Our new location gives us the room we need to grow and positions us to become a hub for the graduate and professional students, faculty and staff on our campus,” said Butler-Purry. “It’s part of our plan to build a stronger sense of community among current, former, and prospective graduate students, as well as faculty and staff. We want to continue to be innovative in our academic program offerings, while cultivating a supportive environment that provides increased opportunities for our students to thrive in their graduate careers, and that carries forward into their professional lives.”  
“On the cusp of something truly special”
Fierke sees the move as a win for graduate and professional students and the university as a whole. “We are proud of the work that Dr. Butler-Purry and her staff have done on overseeing dramatic growth in graduate and professional education,” Fierke said. “Every year, we climb in world rankings for academic programming and research, but we are on the cusp of something truly special. Establishing a Graduate and Professional School enables us to expand our support for our graduate students, who make invaluable contributions to research and teaching, and signals that Texas A&M is invested in becoming a world leader in graduate and professional education. Elevating graduate and professional education raises the profile of the whole university.”
To celebrate its launch and move, the Graduate and Professional School is planning an event for early spring. Subcommittees are scheduled to submit recommendations at an open forum at the end of March 2021. For information on this or how to participate in subcommittee activities, visit the Graduate School Formation page on the Graduate and Professional Studies website.

By Rob Dixon, Texas A&M University Office of Graduate and Professional Studies 

Media contacts:  Rob Dixon, Texas A&M University Office of Graduate and Professional Studies, 979.845.3631,