clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Texas A&M Presidents No Longer Allowed to Live On Campus

Texas A&M's new president Michael Young won't be living in the on-campus President's Home, and it doesn't sound like it was his choice.

The President's Home served as the residence for every Texas A&M president since 1963, when the original President's Home burned. However, new University President, Michael Young, won't be living there. As reported by Brent Zwerneman of the Houston Chronicle, Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp says the residence will be used for hosting donors, dignitaries, former students, and other special functions.

Together we made a decision that it's way more important being shared with the A&M community, particularly in terms of fundraising and goodwill and things like that. And these guys could go find another place to live.

- Chancellor John Sharp

Young, during his previous stint as President of the University of Washington, lived in the President's home as one of his contractual obligations. Just before taking office at UW, Young married his current wife, Marti, on the deck of UW's presidential mansion.

Young was asked about his involvement in the decision to not live in A&M's President's residence, and joked that he was told "get your own damn house."  The current arrangement  doesn't seem to bother President Young, who says he looks forward to "putting down roots," and becoming a part of the community; something that he doesn't feel is as easy to accomplish when living in a public location.

Whether or not the decision to discontinue the availability of the residence as a presidential homestead was made jointly between the Board of Regents and the President isn't clear. It's also unclear whether any students were consulted to understand their perspective. Regardless, Chancellor Sharp didn't shy away from the fact that he sees uses for the home that are "far more valuable" than housing A&M's President.
What we discovered is that sharing that house with former students, the Aggie nation, could result in a lot of goodwill and a lot of fundraising and things like that that were far more valuable than having somebody live there. - Chancellor John Sharp
The residence previously hosted the events that Chancellor Sharp would like to continue, yet they've never been the real source of value to the home's actual occupant. A President living in the President's Home is afforded the opportunity to develop a rapport with students and faculty through visibility and accessibility.

Although the role of the president extends far beyond the goodwill of students, presidents are entrusted to make decisions with their best interests in mind. Whether or not a university president feels he or she can do that without living among the people whose futures they control, and how much accessibility to those people they should provide, should be left to their discretion. From statements made thus far, the choice appears to have been taken out of Michael Young's and all other future presidents' hands.

Walking through the door of the President's residence to be greeted by the University President is a charming and quaint experience that truly only exists on the fringes of reality that college life occupies. The home itself is a seventh wonder of the world. In a span of city blocks that contain structure after structure built to hold occupants by the thousands, it sits alone, resting silently within a lightly-forested park, under the shadow of a $450 million mountain cast from brick and steel.

For all of its charming qualities, the President's Home provides little in terms of privacy for those occupying it. I wouldn't begrudge anyone who chooses to live elsewhere, but that decision shouldn't be in the hands of a politicians and regents. The choice of whether or not to occupy the home and take advantage of this collegiate quirk should rest solely in the hands of the University President.

Is it worth keeping the home if no presidents will live there again? Should it even be called the President's Home if there will never be another president residing in it?

This change has seemingly rendered the facility into little more than a historic hotel, and without further occupancy by a president, there is no more history to be added. It now serves as nothing more than a place for pre-game cocktails and fundraising slumber parties, a status symbol for the wealthy donors who will occupy it's upstairs quarters, further separating itself from being a symbol of the President's common bond with the students.


Tell us what you think about this change in the comments, and vote in the poll below.