Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp will recommend that the Board of Regents name Mark Welsh III, interim President at Texas A&M University, as the sole finalist for the position, according to two people familiar with the discussions.

Sharp and Board Chair Bill Mahomes met with the executive committee of the Faculty Senate on Monday during lunch, where Sharp shared the news, according to a person familiar with the discussions. The Board of Regents is expected to call a special meeting this week to officially name him the sole finalist, kicking off a required 21-day waiting period between the time a sole finalist is selected and officially appointed.

Sharp said in a statement there is an urgency to bring further stability to the university’s administration, but encouraged the Faculty Senate to still gather feedback about Welsh.

“Like many of you, I am pleased with the direction of Texas A&M under General Welsh’s leadership,” Sharp said. “He is moving decisively to advance the university’s mission, and he is doing it while ensuring that faculty, staff, and others are properly informed and included”

In the statement, Chair Mahomes said faculty can still submit feedback during the 21-day period before the board considers whether to officially name Welsh the permanent president.

Sharp named Welsh the acting president in late July after former president Kathy Banks, who had served as president for two years, resigned amid fallout from the bungled hiring of Kathleen McElroy, a Black journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin. Welsh, then-dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service, was asked to serve as acting president until regents could pick an interim. Sharp later said Welsh would serve as the interim president while the university conducted a national search for a permanent replacement.

The news about McElroy, who was hired to revive A&M’s journalism program, received national attention after The Texas Tribune reported that A&M had watered down McElroy’s job offer after conservative board members raised concerns with her credentials. McElroy decided to stay at the University of Texas, settling with A&M for $1 million after her hiring fell through.

Days later, the Tribune also revealed that, earlier this year, university leaders swiftly suspended a pharmacology professor with pay after she was accused by a politically connected student of criticizing Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick during a lecture. She was eventually reinstated, but professors and other critics said the rushed response to the complaint creates a chilling effect on faculty who speak openly about their areas of expertise.

Hammond said Monday that both instance had brought “shame on our university as a whole.”

At Monday’s meeting, Hammond said there is a “strong push” for a permanent president, but that the university’s policies had slowly eroded faculty involvement. The university currently has multiple dean positions open, and Hammond said the university is struggling to hire people from outside the school because they don’t want to accept a position without knowing who will be their next boss. She also shared concerns that the university might not be able to attract top external talents given recent national media attention.

Throughout her tenure, Banks was largely criticized by faculty and staff for not involving them in some decisions and failing to communicate why certain changes were made.

Since becoming interim president, Welsh has set a new tone on campus, hosting dozens of listening sessions with faculty, students and staff. He tapped staff to reassess Banks’ overhaul of the university, walking back some changes while staying the course on others.

In recent weeks, faculty have asked Sharp to allow them to assess Welsh before regents considered naming him permanent president.

“We also greatly respect Interim President Welsh and his work to date leading the university. However, we also believe that an open search or a vetting process led by the faculty senate for a permanent president would enhance the reputation of the Board of Regents and System officials, and it would validate the appointment of the new president,” said Hammond in a letter to Sharp last month. “Giving the university — faculty, staff, and students — the opportunity to weigh in on the person who may be appointed to take our institution forward is critical at this juncture in time.”

Sharp agreed to let the Faculty Senate conduct an assessment of Welsh, who was one of the four finalists considered for president when Banks was hired in 2021. Hammond also said Sharp told the executive committee Monday that he is committed to creating a task force that would examine how to include more faculty input in future presidential searches.

The Faculty Senate is expected to meet at 3 p.m. Monday to discuss its assessment process.

This story is developing.

The Texas Tribune partners with Open Campus on higher education coverage.

Disclosure: Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University System and University of Texas at Austin have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

Kate McGee covers higher education for the Texas Tribune, in partnership with Open Campus.

Kate McGee covers higher education for the Texas Tribune, in partnership with Open Campus.