It’s been one year since we welcomed President Mark Rudin to our pride. Hailing from Boise State University, he brought with him a passion for innovation and a vision for the future of our institution. We sat down with him to reflect on his first 365 days and get a peek at what’s to come.
When the president arrived in Commerce from Boise, Idaho, in August 2018, he and his family were greeted with a warm Texas welcome. “Of all the places we have lived, I think the people in East Texas are probably the most kind and generous and welcoming that we’ve ever been around, and if you take care of my family, you take care of me,” Rudin said. “I can’t tell you how appreciative we are that we’ve been welcomed by the community. We have been overwhelmed by their support.”
The president appreciates many things about A&M-Commerce, but the Lion community tops his list. “This is the best student body I’ve ever been around,” Rudin said. He enjoys interacting with students, listening to their stories, learning about their backgrounds and collecting feedback and suggestions about their university experiences.
Rudin also noted the vibrant campus community created by student organizations. “My wife [Libby] and I love attending student events,” he said. “I think there’s much more of a community feel among our student body here. If folks from the outside knew how much we have going on at our university, they would be very surprised.” He described A&M-Commerce as the “economic, social and cultural hub of the region.”
Additionally, Rudin commended his colleagues at A&M-Commerce. “I love the people I work with. I think we have a good leadership team and a great faculty and staff,” Rudin said. He also expressed gratitude for the Lion alumni and their willingness to help, no matter the task.
During his first year, Rudin has introduced several new initiatives, designed to promote the university’s forward momentum. “I come from institutions that pride themselves on innovation and not being afraid to try new things to make the institution better and, therefore, make students more successful. A&M-Commerce has also been an institution that has tried new things, like competency-based education, and being the first university in the state of Texas to offer an online MBA. That type of innovative spirit excites me,” Rudin said.
Among Rudin’s new initiatives, the College of Innovation and Design (CID) is a space in which academic and research experts from multiple disciplines can work together on innovative programs and projects. Rudin explained that a new academic program might bring together, for example, experts from economics, geoscience, biology and engineering. Interdisciplinary programs may not have clearly designated homes among the university’s existing departments, so the CID will provide a home and encourage collaboration across disciplines.
Rudin is also leading the effort to create a new strategic plan for A&M-Commerce. The plan will be used as a framework to guide the university’s decisions and progress. Rudin explained, “I want the strategic plan to be our roadmap for how we move this university forward.”
Additionally, the president has implemented a community outreach program to share the A&M-Commerce story with high school students across the region. “I am currently working on connecting the university to local and regional independent school districts and establishing partnerships with those school districts,” Rudin said. To date, he and his colleagues have visited more than two dozen schools across Texas.
Looking back, Rudin is thankful for the encouragement and support of the Lion community during his first year as president of A&M-Commerce. As he looks to the future, he is excited to continue working alongside his colleagues to grow A&M-Commerce into a premier educational leader in Texas. “We have a lot of work to do to reach our goals, but my sleeves are rolled up, and I’m ready to continue the good work we’ve started!” Rudin said.