Since its opening in 1876 as a land-grant institution and the state’s first public university, Texas A&M University has carried on the traditions of its rich history, while adapting to an ever-changing world. The school has grown from its roots as an all-male, military college to one of the nation’s premier academic and research institutions with a co-ed student population of more than 53,000, hailing from more than 125 countries.
As Texas A&M is in its 136thyear as an institution of higher learning, members of the administration, faculty and student body share their hopes for the future of the university and its students.
“I strongly believe that Texas A&M has an incredibly bright future ahead,” says Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin. “Although we have had to weather significant financial challenges in the past few years, we continue to make progress toward realizing our aspirations of becoming recognized as one of the nation’s top 10 public universities by the year 2020.”
Since the announcement of Vision 2020 in 1999, Loftin says the university has made significant strides toward achieving this goal, while still maintaining Aggie traditions, values and spirit. “Our faculty has grown and become truly world-class, our research enterprise has grown to more than $700 million per year, and campus facilities have increased significantly,” Loftin notes. “We have also become a member of the Association of American Universities, a very prestigious and significant accomplishment. Texas A&M has become more balanced, with growth in liberal arts and the emergence of the Mays Business School as one of the best in the country. The demand for our graduates is stronger than ever, and the future of our state and nation will depend on the leaders we produce at Texas A&M.”
Loftin says the university is having a global impact through research and former students around the world, and through its branch campus in Qatar. “Our society is becoming increasingly interconnected and mobile; it is imperative that we prepare our students to succeed in such an environment,” he contends. “We are working on new energy solutions, enhancing democracies, preparing teachers for future generations, feeding hungry people, enhancing the natural and built environment and developing new entrepreneurs – all of which will make our world a better place.”
And although the future is uncertain, Loftin says Aggie students of today will be prepared to meet the most difficult challenges. “I have the daily privilege of interacting with the world’s best students,” the president notes. “They are intelligent and highly motivated. This gives me perhaps the best perspective on our collective future ― a positive future shaped by our incredible graduates!”
Professor of Architecture Rodney Hill teaches his Aggie students to be “very interested in the future, as they will spend the rest of their lives there,” he says. “Students today have experienced more change and accelerating technology in their lifetime than any previous generation. They can imagine a world far different and have an open mind for wonder.”
Hill says technology will progress so quickly that “the majority of students in the university now will be working in jobs that don’t even exist today. There will be more inventions in the next 30 years than from the beginning of time to the present. Nanotechnology, biotechnology, quantum computers, artificial intelligence and robots will create opportunities to change the world,” he contends. “A robot with self-awareness has been invented and 3-D printers for human organs using the recipient’s own cells. IBM announced they will have a laptop equivalent to the human brain by 2018.”
Hill asks his students to look at their field of study and examine future possibilities. “The last project in my class is to look at a process or product and create a new one that will make the first one obsolete,” he says. “Students of this generation are realizing the state of accelerating change in the world and are more open to creating the future instead of just reacting to it when it occurs.”
One student looks at the future as an opportunity for Aggies to take the university’s core values of loyalty, integrity, excellence, leadership, respect and selfless service into the world after graduation. Current Student Body President John Claybrook says, “Aggies bring a refreshing sense of personal humility and responsibility to the world. They realize their duty as citizens, family members and former students by leading when called and serving persistently in all they do.”
A finance major from Dallas, Class of ’13, Claybrook was elected student body president this year and says the university has made major advances in its campus facilities. “Renovations at Kyle Field and Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park have created world class facilities for our athletes and fans,” he notes. “We realized the need for upgrades and the commitment of generous former students have made such massive projects happen. These facilities aren’t only limited to athletics, as students now have the opportunity to study and conduct research in some of the greatest facilities in the world.” Major new facilities for liberal arts, engineering and agriculture, for example, have opened new doors for academia at Texas A&M.
And although Claybrook acknowledges there’ve been some big changes on campus, including the university’s new membership in the SEC, he says Aggies will always maintain Texas A&M’s core values and traditions. “We must continue to hold true to what makes our university great,” he says, “a commitment to giving respect to all, loyally serving our university, state and nation, and leading with excellence. We must remain true to what got us here.”
Media contact: Lesley Henton, News & Information Services, at (979) 845-5591