Noting the institutions’ vast accomplishments over the years, Texas A&M University officials today celebrated the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Texas Maritime Academy, forerunner to Texas A&M University at Galveston, during ceremonies held at the YMCA Building, where the first classes were held in September of 1962.
Five members of the first graduating class of the Texas Maritime Academy were on hand to recall the events of 50 years ago when the first class of Sea Aggies began their academic voyage. One of them, Jack Smith, now serves as the captain of the General Rudder, the training ship used by cadets at Texas A&M-Galveston.
A plaque commemorating the founding of Texas A&M-Galveston and the Texas Maritime Academy will be placed inside the YMCA Building.
“Looking back at this campus, 50 years ago many thought the idea of a maritime academy in Galveston was unheard of and people said it wouldn’t work,” said Richard Box, chairman of The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents.
“But they underestimated Texan determination. They also didn’t count on Aggie ingenuity. They had the support of the Galvestonians and the Texas A&M Board of Directors, and the rest is history. I believe the Board of Directors would be very proud to see how much Texas A&M at Galveston has thrived, and that their leap of faith paid off more than they could have ever imagined.”
Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin, who was head of the Galveston campus for several years before assuming his current post, said that the two schools “are still members of a single Aggie Family, and we both share the same core values of excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect and selfless service.
“And when Hurricane Ike struck four years ago, we came together in a way that remains unprecedented in American higher education.”
On Sept. 10, 2008, Hurricane Ike devastated the Galveston area and TAMUG officials moved more than 1,900 students, faculty and staff to the main campus in College Station in what is believed to be the largest move of its kind in U.S. history. Classes resumed on the Galveston campus for the start of the spring semester.
John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System, said that the Galveston campus “serves as a premier university for ocean and coastal studies, research and service.
“The campus continues to expand for its growing student population, and more than $100 million in new construction projects have occurred in the past five years.”
Jack Smith, captain of the training ship General Rudder, noted that graduates of Texas A&M-Galveston “were in high demand back then, and they are in very high demand today. Many of our cadets go on to jobs that pay $650 per day, and that is just their starting salary. They get some very attractive job offers and have some of the best salaries of any graduates in the state of Texas.
“This university, these grounds and buildings are our heritage and still remain our foundation and continue to give us strength as we contribute significantly to the worldwide reputation of Texas A&M as a Tier One university and an institution that builds leaders of character,” said Rear Admiral Robert Smith III, president and CEO of Texas A&M-Galveston.
“This institution gave us birth. It is a part of us and we are a part of it. It is especially fitting that five members of the first Texas Maritime Academy class are here today. They were the first of more than 1,700 TMA graduates of Texas A&M-Galveston and they were true trailblazers who took A&M to the sea. We now look forward to the next 50 years of education, research and service.”