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Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp orders school leaders to sever research ties with Russian entities

 The Texas A&M University campus.
Shelby Knowles
The Texas Tribune
The Texas A&M University campus.

Texas A&M University Chancellor John Sharp on Wednesday moved to sever all ties with Russia, making it the first Texas university to take such action following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The action was disclosed in a memo Sharp sent out to school officials. He also asked agencies to review noncontractual engagements with Russian entities.

“Please note that this action is in no way an indictment of our faculty members of Russian descent nor a criticism of faculty working to improve conditions in Russia, especially for oppressed groups in that country,” Sharp wrote. “I believe most, if not all, of our faculty oppose the aggression of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his cronies, and will support this action.”

According to the memo, agreements between the school and Russia could include student and faculty exchange programs and study abroad programs. But also included are any research-related agreements that involve clinical trials, testing, data use agreements and licensing agreements.

System leaders said there are fewer than 10 research agreements across the system and they do not believe the move will have a significant impact on its 11 individual universities, eight state agencies and RELLIS, A&M's research campus in Bryan. The system did not immediately respond to a request for those individual agreements. While some universities across the country have announced they are cutting financial ties, few have announced a severing of research partnerships.

In late February, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced it was ending its research partnership with the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology in Moscow, which receives funding from the Russian government.

Across the country, higher education has had a mixed reaction to the invasion of Ukraine. Earlier this week, the Arizona Board of Regents voted to sell off millions in Russian assets across its three university systems. The University of Colorado also announced it would liquidate its financial investments in Russia.

The University of Texas System and the Texas State University System did not immediately respond to questions as to whether they plan similar actions.

Kate McGee covers higher education for The Texas Tribune. She joins after nearly a decade as a reporter at public radio stations across the country. She most recently covered higher ed at WBEZ in Chicago, but started on the education beat in 2013 at KUT in Austin. She has also worked at NPR affiliates in Washington D.C., New York City and Reno, Nevada. Kate was born in New York City and primarily raised in New Jersey. She graduated from Fordham University. Her work has appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here and Now, and The Takeaway.