Opening a site in the nation’s capital allows Texas A&M and the Bush School to reach a new student demographic, including capital-area professionals already working in international affairs and national security positions.
A new home for Aggie leaders is emerging just four blocks from the White House. On May 4, 2020, Texas A&M University announced plans to open a teaching site in Washington, D.C., offering graduate education programs through the Bush School of Government and Public Service. The site officially opened three months later in August and welcomed its first cohort of students this January.
According to Bush School Dean Mark Welsh, former chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, the new site is the logical next step to establish Texas A&M as the premier producer of principled civic leaders. “It’s a chance not only to plant a flag for Texas A&M in our nation’s capital,” Welsh said, “but also to take the Bush School to the next level as an institution of public service.”
Aggies Take Washington
Formed in 1997 under the advisement of the late President George H.W. Bush, who once professed that “public service is a noble calling,” the Bush School is dedicated to producing leaders who enthusiastically heed that calling and center their lives around duty to others.
While The Texas A&M University System has maintained an Office of Federal Relations in Washington, D.C., to support the system’s interests on Capitol Hill, the new teaching site represents a daring geographic expansion for the Bush School and the university at large.
Plans for the teaching site first emerged when a private graduate school closed its doors, leaving its classroom space up for grabs. Bush School administrators have quietly sought a move into Washington, D.C., for some time, so when former Texas A&M President Michael K. Young approached Welsh about the space, he jumped at the opportunity. “We have had a lot of help from university administrators and the System, and we are excited about moving forward,” Welsh said.
The Right Stuff
The teaching site was made possible through generous financial support from the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation, which promotes national security, entrepreneurship, self-reliance, free enterprise and an enhanced quality of life through contributions to a range of philanthropic targets.
The new teaching site offers one degree: a Master of International Policy geared to working professionals with six or more years of experience in international affairs and public service.
“Our foundation saw this teaching site as a brilliant opportunity for collaboration,” said CEO Abby Spencer Moffat. “We share Texas A&M’s vision of creating leaders for America’s national security through meaningful intelligence education, and we cannot wait to see that vision come to fruition.”
At present, the new teaching site offers one degree path: a Master of International Policy geared toward working professionals with six or more years of experience in international affairs and public service.
“Many people working in government need a graduate degree to compete for promotions,” Welsh explained. The ideal applicant for the teaching site is a hard-working professional looking to advance from an entry-level civic or military position. The Bush School plans to add a resident master’s degree program in national security and intelligence within two years, and other Texas A&M colleges are considering programs in areas such as law, health care and food security.
Experience and Expertise
Likewise, the initial faculty body for the teaching site is small; there are currently only four full-time faculty. Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, former superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy, draws from 35 years of military experience as executive director. Respected intelligence scholars Drs. Yuval Weber and Edward Lemon act as instructors. Finally, as director of intelligence studies, Gary Ross is the teaching site’s designated professor of practice with real-world experience working for the Department of Defense, keeping in line with the Bush School’s existing philosophy of practitioner-grounded education.
“If your objective is to produce leading public servants,” Welsh said, “it is essential to have great scholars as well as experienced practitioners on your faculty.” Just as Bush School students have learned under eminent professors like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former CIA operative James Olson, Welsh believes the site’s proximity to Capitol Hill will attract prominent public servants as speakers and adjunct professors.
Dean Welsh believes the site’s proximity to Capitol Hill will attract prominent public servants as speakers and adjunct professors.
The Future of Service
Above all, Welsh has high hopes for building an institution that reflects President Bush’s vision for quality public service education while preserving the sense of community that defines Texas A&M. “Students come to the Bush School because they want to serve,” Welsh said. “That’s why they choose us over other graduate programs. Combined with Texas A&M’s core values, that service-focused philosophy creates a special environment.”
As for recruiting, Welsh is optimistic. The number of politicians, service members and civil servants that Texas A&M produces has already endeared Aggieland to many in Washington, D.C. Besides, Welsh has learned an important lesson in his time as the Bush School’s dean: “I never underestimate the draw of the block A-T-M.”
To learn how you can support the Bush School of Government and Public Service and its site in Washington, D.C., contact Cara Collins ’08 at (979) 845-4740 or by submitting a message through the form below.