“Howdy!” shouted Shannen, education major and proud Aggie from Garland, Texas, as she welcomed us to Texas A & M. Ruth & I and about 20 others were about to get a walking tour of the campus in College Station.
You have to really want to do this. I consulted locals and we located the Koldus Parking Garage, which is hard to get to, walked across the plaza to the Student Center, and turned left. But we soon discovered that we should have gone right and into the lobby of Rudder Tower. This was a worthwhile practice run because we had to return at 11 am the next day for Shannen’s tour.
Texas Agricultural and Mechanical was established in 1876 as a public institution. The College Station campus currently has about 40,000 students. According to Shannen, 2,200 of them are men and women in all 4 branches of the military. Many of them will have earned commissions in the US Armed Forces by graduation. She compared Texas A & M to West Point but it’s more like The Citadel. Texas A&M is one of 6 educational institutions that is offering Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) via a senior military college (SMC). It’s the largest of the 6. Men and women in uniform are a definite presence on campus, and our walk included the Corps of Cadets Quadrangle, the Aggie Code of Honor, etc. The Fightin’ Texas Aggies is the world’s largest precision military marching band.
As we toured, prospective students and their parents learned far more about Texas A & M traditions–the Roll Call for the Absent, the Century Tree under which engagements occur, etc.–than about academic achievement. “Once an Aggie, always an Aggie” was chanted more than once.
We did pass Evans Library and learn that it’s one of 5 on campus and that the University Writing Center offers help with research papers. Shannen told us that the College of Architecture, Visual Arts, works with Pixar, and she boasted that A & M’s College of Engineering ranks top in the nation without specifying which particular college. She boasted that the Department of Oceanography based in Galveston was the oldest in the nation. Scripps might challenge that assertion. I researched and found that among engineering schools Texas A & M is ranked #3 for Biological/Agricultural by US News and World Report, but it’s not in the top 10 for other engineering programs. Hmmmmm.
That it’s #9 in AP’s top 25 in college football rankings, however, is no surprise. Our tour ended in front of Kyle Field near the 12th man sculpture where Shannen got emotional as she told us that she was not a big football fan until coming to Texas A & M and getting caught up in the Aggie spirit. We also saw the graves of Reveilles 1 through 4. Reveille is the school’s official mascot, and the current “First Lady of A & M” is the 8th dog to achieve this huge honor. The buried pooches have their own scoreboard.
I talked after the tour to the only man on it who was a Texas A & M graduate, and he vigorously confirmed that being an Aggie has been a huge professional benefit.