Letter from the Director:
Happy New Year!
Last week, the 85th Texas Legislature officially gaveled in. For the next five months, we'll be closely following the Texas Legislature and keeping you informed of what is going on and how YOU can help Texas A&M. If you would like to receive regular session updates starting next week, please be sure you are signed up as an Aggie Advocate as that is the only way to receive these updates. You can do so by clicking the button immediately below. 
In this month's edition of the Texas A&M Advocacy Network newsletter, we'll continue our former student spotlight series by highlighting State Representative Trent Ashby '95, who has just been sworn in for his third term as a member of the Texas House of Representatives. We'll also take a look at some of the key issues that Texas A&M will be following, and finally, we'll end with the November Ring Day edition of "Around The Association," highlighting the third and final Aggie Ring Day of 2016. 
Thanks and gig em,
Michael J. Hardy ’13
Director of Strategic Engagement 
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Former Student Spotlight - Representative Trent Ashby '95 
Born and raised in Rusk County, Texas, Trent grew up on a dairy farm and was heavily involved in both 4-H and FFA. He served as Texas 4-H president his junior year of high school and Texas FFA state vice president his senior year. Trent continued his education at Texas A&M University, earning a degree in agricultural economics in 1995.
While at Texas A&M, Trent was heavily involved on campus, serving as a student senator, Class treasurer, and yell leader. During his senior year, Trent was awarded the Buck Weirus Spirit Award, which recognizes students who make contributions to the university through participation in student organizations, Aggie traditions and university events. He was also elected to serve as a Class agent, a position he held until 2005. 
After graduation, he worked on the staff of former Texas Congressman Jim Turner. As a congressional aide, he handled a variety of issues, including agriculture, forestry, veterans, and the federal budget. Further, he served as the staff liaison for the congressman's committee responsibilities, which included the House Armed Services Committee and the House Select Committee on Homeland Security. Upon leaving Congressman Turner's office, he served as the first executive director of the Texas Forest Country Partnership, which promotes economic development activities throughout a 13-county region in East Texas.
In May of 2007, he was elected to serve on the Lufkin ISD Board of Trustees. He served in that role for five years (the last two as president) before being elected to the Texas House of Representative in 2012 to serve the counties of Angelina, Houston, Leon, Madison, San Augustine, and Trinity. In 2015, he served as chairman of the Article III Subcommittee on Appropriations and was one of five House members chosen to negotiate the final state budget. He was the lead negotiator in the House on education funding, working to fund critical programs at our primary and secondary schools and our state’s institutions of higher learning.
He was voted “Freshman of the Year” by his Republican colleagues in 2013 and was recognized by Capitol Inside as the Most Valuable Sophomore after the 2015 session. Just recently, he was awarded the Deep East Texas Legislator of the Year.
You can follow Representative Ashby and stay up to date on his work by visiting his website here.  
Texas A&M University Legislative Priorities
With the 85th legislative session officially underway, here are the main issues that Texas A&M will be following for the next five months: 
Restoration of Any Proposed Budget Cuts 
A four percent budget reduction would have significant negative consequences at Texas A&M University. While Texas A&M’s initial actions have been and will continue to be to protect its core academic missions of teaching, research, and outreach, those functions that provide support for these activities are already operating at highly efficient levels, as evidenced by the administrative cost ratio of 3.6%, lowest of all the state's public four-year institutions. In addition, recent responses to an external report on administrative and staffing efficiencies have resulted in Texas A&M’s decision to reinvest the savings by eliminating a number of staff positions and reinvesting those recovered funds into its core academic missions. Finally, initiatives taken in response to the 2012-13 statewide reductions remain in place as universities have not fully recovered from these previous budget cuts. Essentially, further cuts to these areas, while potentially viewed as further enhancing efficiency, will begin to have a significant negative impact on effectiveness. 
Maintain Current Formula Funding Rates
Formula funding is the foundation upon which public four-year institutions in Texas depend on to provide high-quality teaching and support services for growing student populations, and to prepare them to meet the workforce needs of this state. The teaching function of these institutions is supported by two key sources of funding: state appropriations primarily through the formulas, and students’ tuition and fees.
Maintain Current for Texas Research University Fund (TRUF)
The purpose of the Texas Research University Fund is to strengthen the competitiveness and performance of Texas’ two statutorily classified Research Institutions - Texas A&M and UT-Austin, to be in healthy competition with one another, but more importantly in successful competition with other nationally ranked universities. The proven way to compete successfully at a higher level is to be able to successfully recruit and retain the highest-performing faculty and students. The Constitution charges these two institutions with the responsibility to serve their students and the state’s citizens with the highest level of teaching and research. The TRUF helps Texas A&M and UT-Austin to fulfill this charge. Texas A&M and UT-Austin jointly and respectfully request that the Texas Research University Fund be funded at the current formula ratio.
Veterinary Medicine Partnerships
Texas A&M recognizes that state revenues are tight and the state faces many worthy requests. However, there is a statewide need regarding veterinary medicine. Texas A&M, as one of the best veterinary schools anywhere, has a well-coordinated plan - the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Center Partnerships - to address this state need. The THECB has recommended the state produce more veterinarians, especially in rural/large animal and in underrepresented minority populations. This partnership between the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and four A&M System universities is an innovative, cost-effective way to meet these goals without creating a new veterinary school, which the THECB also cautions against. Working with West Texas A&M, Prairie View A&M, Texas A&M-Kingsville and Tarleton State universities, this partnership will work to “grow” well-formed undergraduates for veterinary school. By placing CVM faculty members on-site at A&M System schools, the likelihood of developing rural/large animal or minority veterinary students will be significantly enhanced. These on-site faculty can also support and teach DVM students at these A&M System university locations based on regional livestock or wildlife industry interest and faculty expertise. By directly linking CVM faculty and A&M System schools, this statewide reach will be the most innovative and cost-effective veterinary outreach and student development program in the nation. This initiative is possible because of the veterinary school class size expansion, in response to THECB recommendations, made possible through a new $120 million teaching facility financed through the Permanent University Fund. Texas A&M respectfully asks the Legislature to continue to build upon this investment.
To view the entire Texas A&M agenda, including priorities for Texas A&M University Galveston and the Health Science Center, visit the Texas A&M Advocacy Network's website and click on the legislative priorities tab.
If you have any interest in receiving regular updates on issues of importance to Texas A&M, particularly during the legislative session, I encourage you to sign up to be an Aggie Advocate 
Around The Association - November 2016
Last November, The Association held its final Ring Day of 2016, at which nearly 3,000 current and former students were awarded their Aggie Rings. All told, in 2016, more than 14,000 Aggie Rings were ordered and presented to both current students and former students.  
The Association of Former Students serves current and former students through scholarships, programming, and events. The Association is able to create these opportunities through the generous gifts of former students and friends of Texas A&M who wish to impact Texas A&M through the Century Club. If you are interested in impacting Texas A&M through The Association of Former Students, I encourage you to click the button below to help Pass It Back and Pay It Forward. 
Make a Gift Today!
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