Changing of the guard–Farewell to Michael C. Waters and welcome to new and returning commissioners

Michael C. Waters

The new year has brought a change in the commission that governs the work of our agency. Yesterday, Governor Abbott announced appointments to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Michael C. Waters, who has been on the commission for over ten years and chair for eight will be replaced by Mr. Bradley S. “Brad” Tegeler of Austin. Commissioner Martha Wong of Houston has been appointed chair of the commission. And Commissioner David Garza of Brownsville, who had initially been appointed to fill an unexpired term, has been reappointed to a full term ending in 2025.We congratulate and welcome Mr. Tegeler to the commission, cheer the reappointment of Mr. Garza, and applaud the appointment of Madam Chair Wong. We have a strong and engaged commission and appreciate the guidance of these individuals along with Commissioners Lynwood Givens, Larry Holt, Arthur Mann, and Darryl Tocker. The State of Texas is fortunate to have this dedicated group of citizens overseeing the important work of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

That said, we will surely miss the leadership of Mr. Michael C. Waters as our chair. During his tenure, Chairman Waters presided over and helped staff navigate TSLAC through several key changes, advancements, and milestones. He helped the agency on the road to recovery after deep cuts in 2012. He guided the agency through the momentous exhibit of the Travis Letter at the Alamo in 2012. He managed the selection of a new director in late 2013, when I joined the TSLAC team. He worked to establish positive relations with key stakeholder groups such as the Texas Library Association. He attended the first meeting with Governor Perry’s staff that led to the transfer of that governor’s papers to the agency — the first governor’s papers to go to TSLAC since Gov. Mark White — a development that was critical to the establishment of the Texas Digital Archive in 2015. And Chairman Waters provided key support of the agency throughout the Sunset reauthorization process. These are but a few of the changes and developments to occur at TSLAC on his watch.

Chairman Waters was always willing to travel to Austin or Washington to meet with elected officials to describe the agency’s needs and ask for support. In 2017, following a meeting between Mr. Waters and the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, TSLAC went on to receive $1 million for broadband development in Texas public libraries. That same year, when Congress and the President were considering zero-funding federal support for libraries, the chairman flew to Washington with Assistant State Librarian Gloria Meraz and met with staffs of Texas Senators Cruz and Cornyn. That year federal funding for libraries was restored and increased. And when TSLAC went before the Sunset Advisory Committee in August 2018, Chairman Waters compelled most of the commissioners to attend the hearing. The Sunset Committee Chairman Senator Birdwell, upon seeing six of seven commissioners present, commented that he had never seen so many members of a governing body attend a Sunset hearing and how important and positive a sign that was for our agency.

As the era of Chairman Waters closes, we take a moment to consider his many contributions to our agency, his constant support, his strategic vision, and his good humor and easy-going demeanor. We thank Chairman Waters for his service to TSLAC and the libraries and archives of Texas, and we wish him and his wife Kathy all the best in their future adventures.

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