Dr. Kracht To Retire After 41 Years

Written by: Ashley Green (cehdcomm@tamu.edu)
Post date: December 01, 2015

The last 41 years at Texas A&M have been a wild ride for Dr. Jim Kracht.  He joined the College of Education and Human Development as an assistant professor of curriculum and instruction and social studies education in 1974.  Since then, he has served in many leadership roles including executive associate dean for academic affairs and the Marilyn Kent Byrne Chair for Student Success.

Along with helping establish the Byrne Center for Student Success, Dr. Kracht supported development of several new degree programs in CEHD.  When Dr. Kracht joined the college, there was one degree that served elementary, middle school, bilingual and special education.  Dr. Kracht has seen a growth in degree programs and a move to more of a focus on research.  “The market the college was aiming at at that time was the K-12 market.  They wanted to produce leaders for the public schools in Texas.  As the time changed, we still wanted to maintain that strength, but we also wanted to produce some researchers for other universities across Texas and across the U.S.”

Dr. Kracht has seen that research focus grow exponentially, specifically the change in overall intent - turning to production and dissemination of knowledge in new areas.  “We’ve turned our eyes much more to research and we have some absolutely brilliant young researchers in the college these days.  They’re going to make names for themselves and people will be reading what they’re working on across the nation and world.”

Although Dr. Kracht has not been hands-on in CEHD over the last four years, he believes the college is doing great things and hopes that will continue.  “I hope, specifically for the College of Education and Human Development, that it could become the place that other universities would look at when they want to hire faculty members, especially some universities that we hold up as models here.”

Academic Success Center

Dr. Kracht first started thinking about retirement four years ago when he was executive associate dean for CEHD.  At that time, a new associate provost for undergraduate studies asked Dr. Kracht to help temporarily.  When she unexpectedly left the position two months later, he was named interim associate provost for undergraduate studies and served in that role for four months.

After those four months, when a new associate provost was named, Dr. Kracht remained in the office to help establish the Academic Success Center.  “I thought I knew how to do that because we’d been successful in the College of Education and Human Development with the Byrne Student Success Center.  This turned out to be a huge undertaking and there was some of resistance to the idea.”

Since the Center’s start, more than 12,000 students have been served.  Dr. Kracht expects that number to jump to close to 14,000 in the spring.  Of those students on academic probation, more than 80% are able to get off probation after just one semester.

On Retirement

A lot has changed in CEHD and the university as a whole since 1974, and Dr. Kracht is proud to have been such an integral part of that.  However, he’s ready to take time for himself and his family and focus on those activities he has never had time to do.

“I’m a little bit older than 25 now,” Dr. Kracht joked.  “I’ve noticed a lot of our friends kind of quit doing stuff about the time they are 80.  So, I figure we’ve got 10 years to still do a few things.  One of the things that’s happened over the years is I’ve never had a chance to do my own stuff.  It’s always been the job takes too much time.  About the only thing I do on my own is read and I don’t get nearly enough time for that.  It’s time.”

Hope For The Future

Before he closes his office door for the last time, he has one final message to share to the Texas A&M community.

“I think education of children, young people and young adults is the most important thing we do.  Frankly, we need to turn a lot more attention and give a lot more support to it.  I know there are many competing interests, but our future depends on providing future generations the best education possible.”