Texas A&M University leaders say Energy Secretary Rick Perry wasn't involved in a $2.5 billion nuclear weapons lab contract that partly went to his alma mater.
Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp said Tuesday the National Nuclear Security Administration had favorably scored their proposal to manage Los Alamos National Laboratory near Santa Fe, New Mexico, before the former Texas governor signed off. Sharp was once Perry's college roommate at Texas A&M.
During a conversation at the Headliners Club of Austin Tuesday, moderated by the news and politics editor at Texas Monthly, Carlos Sanchez, Sharp also made sure to credit M. Katherine Banks, vice chancellor and dean of engineering, for Texas A&M winning the contract.
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“It began with her,” Sharp said. “We wanted to serve our country.”
Texas A&M will help manage the birthplace of the atomic bomb along with the University of California and Ohio-based Batelle Memorial Institute. The NSSA awarded the contract last month and previously said Perry played no role in the evaluation or selection.
Sharp also introduced the incoming director of the lab, Dr. Thom Mason, during an event in Austin Tuesday.
The contract is a big step as federal officials look to get the lab back on track after safety lapses and missed goals.
In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Texas A&M said the university has been involved in nuclear science for almost 60 years and is home to the largest nuclear engineering program in the nation. Going forward, Texas A&M faculty and students will lend their expertise in workforce development and emergency management and crisis preparedness training in the effort to manage Los Alamos.