BRYAN / COLLEGE STATION, Texas (FOX 44) – Texas A&M University and Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) have announced new and expanded partnerships to increase opportunities for students and faculty at both campuses – as well as collaborative community outreach programs to capitalize on each school’s resources as the state’s only two land-grant universities.
Chancellor John Sharp has encouraged the Texas A&M System’s eleven universities and eight state agencies to work together on important projects. For example, Texas A&M’s veterinary college has joined West Texas A&M in creating a program allowing Panhandle students to take the first two years of their veterinary education at the Canyon, Texas campus before completing their degree in College Station.
Healthy South Texas, a project targeting chronic diseases and led by Texas A&M AgriLife, has lent its expertise to PVAMU to create a Healthy Houston equivalent. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Texas A&M collaborate on drone projects, while the flagship university and Texas A&M-Central Texas focus on solar projects.
“The best opportunities, however, may arise from this partnership between Texas A&M and Prairie View A&M because they are both land-grant universities,” Sharp said. “I am pleased that the presidents of these institutions are pursuing this important effort.”
Texas A&M President Dr. M. Katherine Banks said, “Chancellor John Sharp is a powerful advocate for all of the Texas A&M System universities and had a strong vision for partnership between the two land-grant institutions. The leadership teams of Texas A&M and Prairie View A&M came together in October to explore innovative ways both schools could leverage each other’s strengths while providing new opportunities to benefit students and faculty at our institutions.”
A&M and PVAMU were both established under the Morrill Land Grant Act. Texas A&M is the state’s oldest higher education institution, founded as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas by the state legislature in April 1871. When doors opened on October 4, 1876, all of its students were white men and required to participate in military training. In the 1960s, President Gen. James Earl Rudder made participation in the Corps of Cadets voluntary and opened the campus to everyone. Today, Texas A&M is one of the nation’s largest universities – with fall 2021 enrollment at 73,284 students.
PVAMU, one of the state’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), was established in August 1876 as the “Alta Vista Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas for Colored Youth,” and underwent several name changes before finally being named “Prairie View A&M University” in August 1973. PVAMU was the first state-supported college in Texas for African-Americans. The institution reported fall 2021 enrollment at 9,353 total students. PVAMU is an independent unit of The Texas A&M University System, and is located about 50 miles southeast from College Station – in Prairie View.
“The opportunity afforded by the physical proximity of these two research universities speaks for itself,” said PVAMU President Ruth Simmons. “Each has a historic mission that is amplified greatly by cooperative exchange with the other institution. This partnership between a leading AAU institution and a leading HBCU is without doubt one of the most promising in the nation.”
The partnership will be focused on four key areas – faculty exchange, student programs, scholar exchange/support and community outreach, said officials from both institutions.
Overseeing the project on behalf of PVAMU is Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs James Palmer, who said the two institutions are linked by their land-grant missions and traditions to advance knowledge, research and opportunity.
“We are weaving ourselves together, more so than in the past, and doing so with hope and optimism,” Palmer said. “The differences between our universities offer opportunities for faculty and students from both institutions to learn about each other’s culture through the lenses of teaching and research, areas of mutual institutional importance. Our faculty have many similar academic interests, so our endeavors are promising, particularly in the areas of student learning and faculty collaborations.”
Palmer’s counterpart at Texas A&M is John T. Cooper, Jr., assistant vice president in the Division of Academic and Strategic Collaborations. He was most recently the assistant vice president for Public Partnership & Outreach and acting associate director of the Institute for Sustainable Communities.
“This new partnership will leverage our collective resources and allow us to pursue our shared interests,” Cooper said of faculty and students at the two institutions. “It’s an opportunity to expand the impact of Texas A&M, Prairie View A&M and The Texas A&M University System.”
The partnership will engage students, faculty and researchers in socially responsible activities addressing local, national or global problems. Among the new initiatives in planning will be a faculty exchange incentive program to encourage participation to teach on both campuses; shared courses, education abroad and internship opportunities for students; and a central fund to share notable scholars who attend both campuses.
Another facet of the agreement will be shared community outreach, whereby research and service at both campuses can benefit local communities and the state at large. Cooper said such activities can run the gamut from agricultural extension services, to Panthers for Healthy Communities – a health, nutrition and wellness outreach program – to cultural and art exchanges.
Students at both institutions are already collaborating on a project to come up with design concepts for a Juneteenth museum in Galveston.