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students good to Texas A&M
Special to The Eagle
When I joined
the Texas A&M University community a little more than six years
ago, it did not take long before the meaning of the Aggie
spirit and its enduring nature were made clear to me by the
efforts of the Association of Former Students.
Unlike many other colleges and universities, where the involvement
of alumni in the lives of their alma mater is limited largely to
attending class reunions and football games, what I found here was
a remarkable spirit of generosity toward enhancing the universitys
Please dont misunderstand me. Aggies love class reunions and
football games as much as anyone. But their dedication to Texas
A&M as an educational institution is exhibited year-round, not
only on autumn Saturdays. They understand the value of a Texas A&M
education in their lives, and are tireless in their commitment to
ensuring that current and future Aggies receive the same quality
From incoming freshmen to our employees and our most distinguished
faculty, the Association and its more than 250,000 members worldwide
daily touch the lives of virtually our entire campus community.
Last year alone, the Association and its members directly contributed
some $1.5 million to the Division of Academic Affairs to support
projects and programs ranging from student scholarships to faculty
and staff award programs, orientation programs for new faculty,
libraries and faculty development leave.
Association funding supports a variety of programs that directly
benefit our students every day. For instance, supplemental instruction
provided through the Center for Academic Excellence helps students
to achieve at the highest academic level, and programs in the Career
Center regularly help Aggies launch their careers. Still other students,
who may never have come to Texas A&M, first learn about the
opportunities available at the university from one of the many recruiting
programs funded in part by the Association.
As unrestricted funds, the decision of how to use best these contributions
rests with those receiving them, such as deans and department heads
who frequently use them to support other enrichment activities.
They are truly an investment in excellence.
And the above figure accounts for only about half of the $3 million
total Texas A&M received from the Association last year. A sizable
sum, to be sure, but one that I believe also illustrates the power
of teamwork: Spread among all living graduates, it breaks down to
less than $1 dollar a month each.
So, we see that each member of the Aggie family touches upon the
lives of all others occasionally in ways much more personal
than academics. Unrestricted Association funds also help pay for
farewell receptions for retiring employees, allowing the university
community to come together and thank faculty, staff and administrators
for their dedicated service. They help pat for flowers for funerals
and hospital stays.
In these and many other ways, the bond among us is strengthened
and our sense of community enhanced by the same group that organizes
class reunions and football tailgate parties, the same Association
of Former Students that commits itself year-round to our ongoing
quest for excellence.
This generosity is as much an Aggie tradition as Muster or standing
during football games, and represents the same feelings of loyalty
and duty to Texas A&M as mourning a fellow Aggie whom one may
never have met or remaining at the ready to take the football field
if called upon.
And it has been, in the words of Association executive director
Porter Garner, invaluable to making Texas A&M the world-class
university it is today. Former students feel an obligation
to Texas A&M, the 1979 graduate and second-generation
Aggie said last fall. I hear it all the time: I could
never give back to Texas A&M what I got from it. Is there
any other school whose former students would say something like
that? I cant think of any. Nor can I. Nor, after my
years at Texas A&M, can I think of another school that would
engender in its graduates such a feeling.
And, as another school year draws to a close with this weekends
commencement exercises, the cycle begins anew: Our university sends
forth into the world young men and women who will make a positive
difference wherever they go, but who will always remember where
they came from, and that they can still make a difference there,
And what a difference they do make.
Ron Douglas is provost and executive vice president of
Texas A&M University.