Texas A&M University: Wikis


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Texas A&M University
Established 1871[1][Note 1]
Type Flagship state university[2]
Endowment US $5.1 billion (Systemwide)[3]
President Dr. R. Bowen Loftin [4]
Provost Dr. Karan Watson (acting)[5]
Faculty 2,700[6]
Students 48,702 (Fall 2009)[7]
Undergraduates 38,809 (Fall 2009)[7]
Postgraduates 5,919 (Fall 2009)[7]
Doctoral students 3,464 (Fall 2009)[7]
Location College Station, Texas, U.S.
Campus Urban, 5,200 acres (20 km2)[8]
Colors Maroon and White
Nickname Aggies
Mascot Reveille VIII
Affiliations AAU, Big 12
Website www.tamu.edu
TAMU logo.png
All enrollment figures are as of 12th class day data of the fall 2009 semester

Texas A&M University, often referred to as A&M or TAMU, is a coeducational public research university located in College Station, Texas. It is the flagship institution of the Texas A&M University System. The seventh-largest university in the United States, A&M enrolls over 48,000 students in ten academic colleges. Texas A&M's designation as a land, sea, and space grant institution reflects a broad range of research with ongoing projects funded by agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Office of Naval Research. The school ranks in the top 20 American research institutes in terms of funding and has made notable contributions to such fields as animal cloning.

The first public institution of higher education in Texas, the school opened on October 4, 1876,[10] as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. Its original mission was to educate white males in farming and military techniques. Under the leadership of President James Earl Rudder, in the 1960s A&M desegregated, became coeducational, and dropped the requirement for participation in the Corps of Cadets. To reflect the institution's expanded roles and academic offerings, the Texas Legislature renamed the school to Texas A&M University in 1963. The letters "A&M", originally short for "Agricultural and Mechanical", are retained only as a link to the university's past. The school's students, alumni, and sports teams are known as "Aggies".

The main campus is one of the largest in America, spanning 5,200 acres (21 km2),[1][11] and includes the George Bush Presidential Library. Approximately one-fifth of the student body lives on campus. Students are encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities and can choose from among 800 officially recognized student organizations. Many students also observe the traditions of Texas A&M University, which govern daily life as well as special occasions, including sports events. Aggie sports teams compete in the Big 12 Conference. A&M operates two branches: Texas A&M at Qatar and Texas A&M University at Galveston. Working with agencies such as the Texas AgriLife Research and Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Texas A&M has a direct presence in each of the 254 counties in Texas. The university offers degrees in over 150 courses of study through ten colleges and houses 18 research institutes. Texas A&M has awarded over 320,000 degrees, including 70,000 graduate and professional degrees.

As a Senior Military College, Texas A&M is one of three public universities with a full-time, volunteer Corps of Cadets. It provides more commissioned officers to the United States Armed Forces than any other school outside of the service academies.[12]


In the middle of a prairie sit two four-story buildings. Two smaller and less ornate buildings are spread between them.
Texas A&M in 1883

Beginning years

The US Congress laid the groundwork for the establishment of Texas A&M in 1862 with the adoption of the Morrill Act. The act auctioned land grants of public lands to establish endowments for colleges where the "leading object shall be, without excluding other scientific and classical studies and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and mechanical arts... to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life".[13] In 1871, the Texas Legislature used these funds to establish the state's first public institution of higher education,[14] the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, then known as Texas A.M.C.[13] Brazos County donated 2,416 acres (10 km2) near Bryan, Texas for the school's campus.[13]

Classes began on October 4, 1876, with 40 students and 6 faculty members. Admission was limited to white males, and all students were required to participate in the Corps of Cadets and receive military training.[15] Enrollment climbed to 258 students before declining to 108 students in 1883, the year the University of Texas opened in Austin, Texas.[16] Though originally envisioned and annotated in Texas law as a part of the University of Texas System, Texas A.M.C. had a separate Board of Directors from the University of Texas from the first day of classes and was never enveloped into the University of Texas system.[13]

A large domed building overlooks a full-length statue of balding white male with a mustache and long goatee and wearing a knee-length coat. The pedestal is engraved "Lawrence Sullivan Ross".
Statue of Lawrence Sullivan "Sul" Ross located in front of the Academic Building

In the late 1880s, many Texas residents saw no need for two colleges in Texas and clamored for an end of Texas A.M.C. In 1891, Texas A&M was saved from potential closure by its new president Lawrence Sullivan Ross, former governor of Texas and well-respected Confederate Brigadier General. Ross made many improvements to the school and enrollment doubled to 467 cadets as parents sent their sons to Texas A&M "to learn to be like Ross".[17] During his tenure, many enduring Aggie traditions were born, including the creation of the first Aggie Ring.[17] After his death in 1898, a statue was erected in front of what is now Academic Plaza to honor Ross and his achievements in the history of the school.[17]

Under pressure from the legislature, in 1911 the school began allowing women to attend classes during the summer semester.[18] At the same time, A&M began expanding its academic pursuits with the establishment of the School of Veterinary Medicine in 1915.[13]

World Wars era

Many Texas A&M graduates served during World War I. By 1918, 49% of all graduates of the college were in military service, more than any other school.[13] In early September 1918, the entire senior class enlisted, with plans to send the younger students at staggered dates throughout the next year. Many of the seniors were fighting in France when the war ended two months later.[19] Over 1,200 former students served as commissioned officers. After the war, Texas A&M grew rapidly and became nationally recognized for its programs in agriculture, engineering, and military science.[13] The first graduate school was organized in 1924 and the school awarded its first Ph.D. in 1940.[13] In 1925, Mary Evelyn Crawford Locke became the first female to receive a diploma from Texas A&M, although she was not allowed to participate in the graduation ceremony.[20] The following month the Board of Directors officially prohibited all women from enrolling.[18]

Many Aggies again served in the military during World War II, with the college producing 20,229 combat troops. Of those, 14,123 Aggies served as officers, more than any other school and more than the combined total of the United States Naval Academy and the United States Military Academy.[21] During the war, 29 A&M graduates reached the rank of general.[13]

Enrollment soared after the war as many former soldiers used the G.I. Bill to further their education.[22] In 1948, the state Legislature formally recognized Texas A&M as a separate university system from the University of Texas System, codifying the de facto arrangement between the schools.[23]

University era

On March 26, 1960, Major General James Earl Rudder, class of 1932, became the 16th president of the college.[24] During his tenure, the school desegregated, began to admit women, and Corps of Cadets membership became voluntary. By his death in 1970, Rudder had overseen the growth of the school from 7,500 to 14,000 students from all 50 states and 75 nations.[25]

In 1963, the 58th Legislature of Texas approved of Rudder's changes, and officially renamed the school "Texas A&M University",[25], specifying that the "A" and the "M" were purely symbolic, reflecting the school's past, and no longer stood for "Agricultural and Mechanical".[13] In the following 35 years, Texas A&M more than tripled its enrollment from 14,000 students to over 45,000.[11]

Texas A&M became one of the first four universities given the designation sea-grant for its achievements in oceanography and marine resources development in 1971. In 1989, the university earned the title space-grant by NASA, to recognize its commitment to space research and participation in the Texas Space Grant Consortium.[26]

Above the doorway of a large, relatively plain rectangular structure with a short dome are the words "George Bush Library". In front of the building is a circular courtyard with a water fountain; eight American flags are positioned evenly around the circle.
George Bush Presidential Library

In 1997, the school became the home of the George Bush Presidential Library. Operated by the National Archives and Records Administration, it is one of thirteen American presidential libraries. Former President George Bush remains actively involved with the university, frequently visiting the campus and participating in special events.[27][28]

Texas A&M received national media attention on November 18, 1999, when Aggie Bonfire, a ninety-year-old student tradition, collapsed during construction. Twelve current and former students died and twenty-seven others were injured. The accident was later attributed to improper design and poor construction practices.[29] The victims' family members filed six lawsuits against Texas A&M officials, the student Bonfire leaders, and the university. Half of the defendants settled their portion of the case in 2005,[30] and a federal appeals court dismissed the remaining lawsuits against the university in 2007.[31]

With strong support from Rice University and the University of Texas at Austin, the Association of American Universities inducted Texas A&M in May 2001, on the basis of the depth of the university's research and academic programs.[32] In December 2006, university President Robert Gates resigned from his position to become the U.S. Secretary of Defense.[33] Elsa Murano became his replacement in January 2008, but later resigned in June 2009.[34]


Student body

The head and shoulders of three people - an older man, an older woman, and a middle-aged man - wearing formal robes are shown in front of a large circular seal. On the outer edges of the seal the letters "XAS A...IVERSITY...87..." are visible; an inner band of leaves separates the letters from a block T superimposed with a star.
Then-President George W. Bush smiles with his parents, former President George H. W. Bush, left, and former First Lady Barbara Bush following his commencement address at Texas A&M's December 2008 convocation.

As of the fall 2008 semester, Texas A&M was the seventh largest American university with an enrollment of 48,039 students pursuing degrees in 10 academic colleges. The student body represents all 50 U.S. states and 130 foreign countries. Texas residents account for 86% of the student population, and 28.9% are either of international origin or members of ethnic minority groups. The student body consists of 46.8% women and 53.2% men.[7]

Although Texas A&M is a secular institution, its student body has a reputation for being religious and conservative. According to a 2005 student survey published in the Princeton Review, Texas A&M ranked 13th highest in the category "students pray on a regular basis."[35] Four years later, the Princeton Review ranked Texas A&M the eighth most socially conservative campus in the nation.[36] This conservative trend is especially notable in the Corps of Cadets.[37]

The university consistently ranks among the top ten public universities each year in enrollment of National Merit scholars.[38] According to the College Board, the fall 2008 entering freshman class consisted of 54% students in the top 10% of their high school graduating class, 86% in the top quarter, and 99% in the top half.[39] Seventy-four percent of these students took the SAT. The middle 50% of the freshmen had average scores as follows: in critical reading, 520–630, math, 560–670, and in writing 500–610. Twenty-six percent of the incoming freshmen took the ACT, with the middle 50% scoring between a 23 and 29.[40]

During the fall 2008 semester, the Dwight Look College of Engineering had the largest enrollment of 20.5%. The College of Liberal Arts and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences followed, enrolling 15% and 14% of the student body, respectively. The College of Education and Human Development enrolls 12%, and Mays Business School enrolled about 11%. Colleges with less than 10% enrollment included the College of Architecture, the College of Science, the George Bush School of Government and Public Service, the College of Geosciences, and the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. Approximately 8% of the student body had not declared a major.[7]

University rankings (overall)

ARWU World[41] 91
ARWU North & Latin America[42] 55
Times Higher Education[43] 137
USNWR National University[44] 61


Texas A&M consistently scores among the top universities in the United States as determined by various national and international publications. In the 2010 U.S. News and World Report ranking of public universities, Texas A&M is listed 22nd; among "national universities" the school tied for 61st place.[45][Note 2] According to The Washington Monthly criteria, which considers research, community service, and social mobility, Texas A&M ranks fifth nationally.[46] The John Templeton Foundation listed Texas A&M as one of the thirty-five American college programs that "communicate[s] the values of honesty, trust, respect, responsibility, integrity, and fairness in the classroom".[47] The 2008 Kiplinger's Personal Finance ranked the school as the 25th best-value public university on the basis of in-state tuition, and the 9th best-value public university on the basis of out-of-state tuition.[48] Recently the National Science Foundation has recognized Texas A&M as one of the top 20 research institutions.[49]

Internationally, the university is also well-regarded. Newsweek International ranked Texas A&M as the 77th university globally on the basis of "openness and diversity" as well as "distinction in research".[50] In a comparison of educational quality, faculty quality, and research output, Shanghai Jiao Tong University ranked Texas A&M 50th nationally and 88th internationally.[51] The Times Higher Education Supplement listed Texas A&M 60th among the world's top 100 technology universities, 24th among America's top biomedicine universities, and 50th among North America's top 50 universities.[52]

Branches of a large oak tree shade a sidewalk
The Century Tree symbolizes how the university has grown and flourished since 1876


Apart from revenue received from tuition and research grants, the university, as part of the Texas A&M University System (TAMUS), is partially funded from two endowments. The smaller endowment, totalling $1.17 billion in assets, is run by the private Texas A&M Foundation.[3] A larger sum is distributed from the Texas Permanent University Fund (PUF). TAMUS holds a minority stake (one-third) in this fund; the remaining two-thirds belongs to the University of Texas system. As of 2006, the PUF ending net asset value stood at $10.3 billion; $400.7 million was distributed to the two university systems in fiscal year 2007.[53][54] Combined, the total endowment for the TAMUS stands at $5.6 billion, as of 2006.[3]


The Texas A&M University system, in 2006, was the first to explicitly state in its policy that technology commercialization was a criterion that could be used for tenure. Passage of this policy was intended to give faculty more academic freedom and strengthen the university's industry partnerships.[55][56] Texas A&M works with both state and university agencies on various local and international research projects to forge innovations in science and technology that can have commercial applications. This work is concentrated in two primary locations–Research Valley and Research Park. Research Valley, an alliance of educational and business organizations, consists of 11,400 acres (50 km2) with 2,500,000 square feet (232,000 m2) of dedicated research space. An additional 350 acres (1 km2), with 500,000 square feet (46,000 m2) of research space, is located in Research Park.[57] Among the school's research entities are the Texas Institute for Genomic Medicine, the Texas Transportation Institute, the Cyclotron Institute, the Institute of Biosciences and Technology, and the Institute for Plant Genomics and Biotechnology.[58]

In 2004, Texas A&M received nearly $570 million in research funding, ranking the school among the top 20 American research institutes.[59] Almost $400 million of the grants were new awards. Throughout 2004, Texas A&M System faculty and research submitted 121 new inventions and established 78 new royalty-bearing licensing agreements; the innovations resulted in income of $8 million. The Texas A&M Technology Licensing Office filed for 88 patents for protection of intellectual property in 2004.[60]

Spearheaded by the College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M scientists created the first cloned domestic animal, a cat named 'cc', on December 22, 2001.[61] Texas A&M was also the first academic institution to clone each of six different species: cattle, a Boer goat, pigs, a cat, a deer and a horse.[62]

In 2004, Texas A&M joined a consortium of universities to build the Giant Magellan Telescope in Chile. Estimated to be the largest optical telescope ever constructed, the facility will have seven mirrors, each with a diameter of 8.4 meters (9.2 yd). This will give the telescope the equivalent of a 24.5 meters (26.8 yd) primary mirror and will be ten times more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope. Construction is slated to be complete in 2016.[63]

As part of a collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration, Texas A&M completed the first conversion of a nuclear research reactor from using highly-enriched uranium fuel (70%) to utilizing low-enriched uranium (20%). The eighteen-month project ended on October 13, 2006, after the first ever refueling the reactor, thus fulfilling a portion of U.S. President George W. Bush’s Global Nuclear Threat Reduction Initiative.[64]


Four people standing behind a flag each holding their thumb in the air
Two professors, a graduate, and an undergraduate student at the TAMUQ branch campus

Texas A&M has participated in over 500 research projects in over 80 countries and leads the Southwestern United States in annual research expenditures. The university conducts research on every continent and has formal research and exchange agreements with 100 institutions in 40 countries.[65] Texas A&M ranks 13th among U.S. research universities in exchange agreements with institutions abroad and student participation in study abroad programs,[59] and has strong research collaborations with the National Natural Science Foundation of China and many leading universities in China.[65]

Texas A&M owns three international facilities, a multipurpose center in Mexico City, Mexico, the Soltis Research and Education Center near the town of San Isidro, Costa Rica, and the Santa Chiara Study Abroad Center in Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy.[66][67] In 2003, over 1,200 Aggie students, primarily undergraduates, studied abroad.[68] Additionally, the university includes two branch campuses: Texas A&M at Qatar located in Education City in Doha, Qatar devoted to engineering disciplines[69] and Texas A&M University at Galveston in Galveston, Texas, devoted to marine research and host to the Texas Maritime Academy.[70]

Texas A&M's Center for International Business Studies is one of 28 supported by the U.S. Department of Education.[71] The university is also one of only two American universities in partnership with CONACyT, Mexico's equivalent of the National Science Foundation, to support research in areas including biotechnology, telecommunications, energy, and urban development.[72] In addition, the university is the home of "Las Americas Digital Research Network", an online architecture network for 26 universities in 12 nations, primarily in Central and South America.[73]


A view of the main campus, looking north from Kyle Field. At the center is the Academic Building with its copper dome

Texas A&M's College Station campus, one of the largest in America, spans 5,200 acres (21 km2) plus 350 acres (1 km2) for Research Park.[1][11] The university is part of the Bryan-College Station metropolitan area located within Brazos County in the Brazos Valley (Southeast Central Texas) region, an area often referred to as "Aggieland".[74] According the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2008, the population of Brazos County is estimated at 175,122.[75] Money Magazine, in 2006, named College Station the most educated city in Texas, and the 11th most educated American city, due largely to the size of the university.[76] Aggieland is centrally located within 200 miles (320 km) of three of the 10 largest cities in the United States and 75% of the Texas and Louisiana populations (approximately 13.1 million people). The area's major roadway is State Highway 6, and several smaller state highways and Farm to Market Roads connect the area to larger highways such as Interstate 45.[77]

The campus is bisected by a railroad track operated by Union Pacific.[78] The area east of the tracks, known as Main Campus, includes buildings for the colleges of engineering, architecture, geosciences, science, education and liberal arts. Dormitories, as well as the main dining centers and many campus support facilities, are also on Main Campus. Notable buildings on Main Campus include Kyle Field, the Academic Building, the Memorial Student Center, the Administration Building, Rudder Tower, Albritton Bell Tower, and the Bonfire Memorial.[79] To the west of the railroad tracks lies West Campus, which includes most of the sports facilities, the business school, agricultural programs, the veterinary college, the political science and economics school, the George Bush School of Government and Public Service, the George Bush Presidential Library and two schools within the Texas A&M Health Science Center. Research Park, the area of West Campus along Kimbrough Boulevard, includes many research facilities.[80]

Student life

Residential life

Sbisa Dining Hall and central utility plant water tower sporting the greeting, "Welcome to Aggieland"

During the 2006 fall semester, 20.5 percent of the student body lived on campus in one of two distinct housing sections located on opposite ends of campus.[7] Both the Northside and Southside areas contain student dormitories, also known as residence halls. While some halls are single-sex, others are co-educational. Usually students of different genders live on alternate floors, although some halls are segregated by room or suite.[81] Residence hall styles vary. Many halls offer only indoor access to individual rooms, but other halls locate room entrances on an outdoor balcony. Room sizes vary by building. Halls with larger rooms include en-suite or private bathrooms, while halls with smaller rooms have a common bathroom on each floor. Several halls include a "substance-free" floor, where residents pledge to avoid bringing alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes into the hall.[82]

Northside consists of 17 student residence halls, including the 3 university honors dorms.[83] The halls are located near local entertainment district Northgate, and offer convenient access to campus dining establishments Sbisa Dining Hall and The Underground. Some halls have unofficially claimed tables within the Sbisa Dining Hall and many halls congregate for dinner at a specific time each weekday.[84]

Several of the residence halls located on Southside are reserved for members of the Corps of Cadets. Non-corps halls in this area center around the Commons, a hub for activities and dining.[85] Southside has two Learning Living Communities, which allow freshmen to live in a cluster with other students who share common interests.[86]

Facilities for the Corps of Cadets are located in the Quadrangle, or "The Quad", an area consisting of dormitories, Duncan Dining Hall, and the Corps training fields.[87] The Corps Arches, a series of 12 arches that "[symbolize] the spirit of the 12th Man of Texas A&M", mark the entrance to the Quadrangle.[88] All cadets, except those who are married or who have had previous military service, must live in the Quad with assigned roommates from the same unit and graduating class. Reveille, the Aggie mascot, lives with her handlers in the Quadrangle.[89]

Corps of Cadets

Row of students in uniform with knee-high boots. Each holds a bugle that dangles a pennant.
The Fightin' Texas Aggie Band's Bugle Rank leads the band at halftime at a football game.

Texas A&M is one of six United States Senior Military Colleges. The schools' Corps of Cadets (or the Corps) is the United States' largest uniformed student body outside the service academies. Many members participate in ROTC programs and earn commissions in the United States Armed Forces upon graduation. Members of the Corps have served in every armed conflict fought by the United States since 1876, and over 225 have served as generals or Flag Officers.[37]

Until 1965, Corps membership was mandatory. The Corps welcomed female members in the fall of 1974,[90] and as of fall 2007, the co-ed Corps boasts an enrollment of 1,887 cadets.[7]

Robert Gates and senior cadets from the Corps of Cadets give the "gig 'em" sign at the Pentagon.

The Corps is composed of two Air Force Wings, three Army Brigades, and two Navy and Marine Regiments, as well as the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band, whose members may be affiliated with any military branch.[91] Parson's Mounted Cavalry is the only mounted ROTC unit in the United States.[92] The Ross Volunteer Company, the oldest student-run organization in the state, is the official honor guard for the Governor of Texas.[93] The Fish Drill Team, a precision, close-order rifle drill team composed entirely of Corps freshmen, represents the school in local and national competitions. They have won the national championship almost every year since their creation in 1946, and have appeared in several Hollywood productions, with prominent roles in the movies A Few Good Men and Courage Under Fire.[94]

The Fightin' Texas Aggie Band, the world's largest precision military marching band, provides music for University functions and presents intricate halftime performances at football games.[93] Some band drills are so complicated that they require band members to step between each other's feet to complete the maneuvers.[95] These drills must be drawn by hand as computer marching programs have returned errors; their calculations require two people to be in the same spot at the same time.[96]


The solar-powered house that Texas A&M students built for the Solar Decathlon in 2007.

Texas A&M has over 800 student organizations, including academic, service, religious, Greek, and common interest organizations. Orientation programs encourage students to become involved in campus activities and organizations from the beginning.[97] An April 2005 campus survey found that 74% of the students were currently involved with at least one organization and that 88% participated in a campus organization in the past.[98]

One of the oldest student organizations is the Singing Cadets, founded in 1893. Known as the "Voice of Aggieland", the Singing Cadets are an all-male choral group with 70 members. The group travels nationally and has completed several international tours; most recently, South America in 2007.[99]

Texas A&M Hillel, the oldest Hillel organization in the United States, was founded in 1920 at the original college. The organization occurred three years before the national Hillel Foundation was organized at University of Illinois.[100][101]

Student Rec Center

Students exercise at the Student Rec Center, a three-story facility encompassing 373,000 square feet (34,650 m2), which includes exercise equipment, athletic courts, an indoor running track, a rock-climbing tower, and one of the top competitive pools and diving wells in America. The Rec Center also organizes intramural sports throughout the year.[102]

Some national service organizations originated at A&M. Aggie students founded the largest one-day student-run service project in America known as The Big Event. The annual service project allows students to give back to their community by assisting local residents.[103] The organization CARPOOL, a student run, safe ride program has provided over 139,000 free rides (as of January 2009) to Aggies unable to transport themselves home. Its organizers also assist other universities in establishing similar programs.[104][105][106] In addition, the Corporation for National and Community Service listed A&M among the 500 academic institutions in the 2005–06 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.[107]

The Student Government Association (SGA), one of A&M's largest organizations, consists of over 1,300 student members in 3 branches, 15 committees, and 4 commissions. SGA has changed little since 1972, except its relative position within the official framework of the university.[108]


The Princeton Review ranked The Battalion, founded in 1893, as the 20th best college newspaper in America in 2008.[109] Students also publish a secondary school newspaper, the Maroon Weekly.[110] The Aggieland, formerly known as The Olio and The Longhorn, is one of America's largest college yearbooks in number of pages and copies sold.[111][112] The university houses the public broadcasting stations: KAMU-TV, a PBS member station since 1970, KAMU-FM an NPR affiliate since 1977,[113] and the student-run KANM, "the college station of College Station".[114] W5AC broadcast the first live, play-by-play broadcast of a college football game, at Kyle Field, in November 1921. The game, played in Dallas between Aggies and University of Texas, ended in a scoreless tie.[115]


Close-up of gold ring. On the top, the words Texas A&M University 1876 encircle an eagle atop a shield over the numbers 0 and 4. The left side contains a large star and an oak. The right shows a cannon, saber, and rifle with the crossed flags of the United States and Texas.
Aggie Ring for the class of 2004

The Texas A&M culture is a product of the university's founding as a rural military and agricultural school. Although the school and surrounding community have grown, and military training is no longer required, the school's history has instilled in students "the idealized elements of a small-town life: community, tradition, loyalty, optimism, and unabashed sentimentality."[116] Texas Monthly posits that Texas A&M students' respect for school traditions and values is the university's greatest strength.[117] Some of the school traditions date to the 1890s, while others have been introduced more recently. These traditions help current and former students to cultivate the Aggie Spirit, a sense of loyalty and respect for the school.[118] They dictate many aspects of student life, including how to greet others (using the official school greeting–"Howdy!"),[119] how to act at an A&M sporting event, and, in many cases, what words a student may use in conversation.[120]

The most visible tradition among seniors and former students is the wearing of the Aggie Ring, whose design has been relatively unchanged since its introduction in 1894.[121] Students may order a ring after completing 90 credit hours of coursework, including at least 45 hours at A&M, or after graduation. Graduate students may receive a ring after 75% of their graduate coursework is completed or after the acceptance of their dissertation or thesis.[122] Though unsanctioned by the University, many students "dunk" their newly acquired Aggie Rings into a pitcher of beer and quickly chug the entire pitcher to "earn" the ring. Some students dunk their rings in alternative substances, including ice cream or nonalcoholic beverages.[123]

The Ross Volunteers perform a rifleman's salute as candles are lit for the deceased at the 2007 Aggie Muster at Reed Arena

In keeping with the idea that all current and former students comprise a family, Aggies have created two traditions to honor members of the Aggie family who have died. Aggie Muster is held annually on the anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto, April 21, to honor any current and former student who died during the previous year. Over 300 Musters are held around the world, with the largest taking place at Reed Arena on the Texas A&M University campus.[124] All Muster ceremonies feature the Roll Call for the Absent. As the names of the deceased Aggies are called, a family member or friend answers "Here" and lights a candle, to symbolize that although their loved one is not present in body, his or her spirit will shine forever.[125][126] The event received worldwide attention during World War II, when 25 Aggies "mustered" during the battle for the island of Corregidor.[127]

Students who die while enrolled at Texas A&M are also honored at Silver Taps, a ceremony held, when necessary, on the first Tuesday of the month. This tradition began as a memorial for former Texas A&M president Lawrence Sullivan Ross.[128] On the day of the ceremony, flags fly half-staff and notices are posted throughout campus. At 10:15 p.m. the lights around campus are extinguished and hymns chime from Albritton Tower while students and faculty collect in the Academic Plaza. Following a 21-gun salute by the Ross Volunteer Firing Squad, six buglers play an A&M version of the song Taps, Silver Taps, three times from the dome of the school's Academic Building: once to the north, the south and to the west. The song is not played to the east symbolizing that the sun will never rise on that Aggie again.[126]


Large flames engulf the top layer of a circular three-tier structure of logs; the logs are vertical to the ground.
The 2007 Student Bonfire

Aggie football fans are called the 12th Man, meaning they are there to support the 11 players on the field, willing to enter the game, if necessary. To further symbolize their "readiness, desire, and enthusiasm," the entire student body stands throughout the game.[129] The tradition began on January 2, 1922, at the Dixie Classic where A&M played Centre College. A&M had so many injuries in the first half of the game that Coach D. X. Bible feared he wouldn’t have enough men to finish the game. He called into the stands for E. King Gill, a reserve who had left football after the regular season to play basketball. Although he did not actually play, his readiness symbolized the willingness of all Aggies to support their team to the point of actually entering the game. A&M won 22–14, but E. King Gill was the only man left standing on the sidelines for the Aggies.[130] In recent decades, the 12th Man is represented on the field by a walk-on player who wears the No. 12 jersey and participates in kick-offs.[131]

The 12th Man uses a variety of school yells, rather than cheers, to support Aggie teams. Each year the student body elects five students to serve as the Yell Leaders.[132] At midnight before each home football game at Kyle Field or at a predesignated location at away games, the fans gather together to practice the yells for the next day's game.[119][133] Led by the Yell Leaders, and the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band, the Twelfth Man files into the stadium to participate in Midnight Yell Practice to practice yells, sing the War Hymn, and joke about their opponents. At the conclusion of the yell practice, the stadium lights are extinguished and fans kiss their dates. This is also done as practice, because Aggies are expected to "mug down", or kiss their dates, every time the football team scores on the field.[133][134] Sports Illustrated named Midnight Yell as one of the "100 Things You Gotta Do Before You Graduate."[135]

Almost every year since 1909, A&M students have built a large bonfire to celebrate their "burning desire to beat the hell outta" the University of Texas.[136] Aggie Bonfire was traditionally lit around Thanksgiving in conjunction with the festivities surrounding the annual college football game between the schools.[137] Though it began as a trash pile,[138] Aggie Bonfire evolved into a massive six-tiered structure, the world record being held at 109 feet (30 m).[137] [139] After the collapse of the 1999 structure, the university suspended Bonfire indefinitely, but the tradition continues off-campus without direct University involvement, sanction, or participation.[140][141]


TAMU logo

A charter member of the Southwest Conference until its dissolution in 1996, A&M now competes in the Big 12 Conference (South Division).[142] The school's 20 sports teams are known as the Aggies, and the school's colors are maroon and white.[143] As of June 2009, Aggies have earned 130 Southwest and Big 12 conference regular-season and tournament titles and 8 team national championships.[144] The women's soccer team, formed in 1993, earned 12 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances from 1995 to 2006, advancing at least as far as the round of 16 in seven of the last eight appearances.[145] The women's volleyball team earned 12 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances from 1993 to 2004, advancing past the first round each time.[146] For the 2006–2007 school year, seven Aggie sports teams won Big 12 Championships: women's soccer (regular season), women's basketball (regular season), women's indoor track and field, women's outdoor track and field, women's golf, and women's swimming and diving.[147] In 2004 Sports Illustrated on Campus ranked Olsen Field "the best college baseball venue".[148] Sports Illustrated ranked the university 46th, in a 2002 analysis of "America's Best Sports College[s]"[149] and College Station the 9th best college sports town.[150]

A&M's archrival is the University of Texas. In 2004, sporting events between the Aggies and Longhorns became known as the Lone Star Showdown. The most-watched event in the rivalry is the annual football game held the day of Thanksgiving.[151][152] Other rivalries include Texas Tech, Baylor University, and the recently renewed rivalry with the University of Arkansas.[153][154][155][156]


A view from the student section of Kyle Field during a 2007 football game

Founded in 1894, the football team has won 18 Southwest Conference championships, a Big 12 championship, 2 Big 12 South Division championships, and 1 national championship.[157] The team has appeared in 30 bowl games, winning 13,[158] and has produced 41 first Team All-Americans, 5 Academic All-Americans, and 1 Heisman Trophy winner, John David Crow in 1957.[159] Twenty-one Aggies currently play in the NFL.[160][161]

Since 1904, home football games have been played at Kyle Field, a stadium with a current capacity of 83,002.[162] In 2004, CBS SportsLine.com ranked Kyle Field the top football stadium while Sporting News ranked it fourth.[163][164] The same year Sports Illustrated on Campus ranked an A&M football weekend the third best college football experience.[165]


A men's basketball game at Reed Arena in January 2008

Founded in 1912, the men's basketball team won 11 Southwest Conference championships and 2 Southwest Conference Tournament championships. The team has appeared in the National Invitation Tournament 6 times and in the NCAA Tournament 10 times, of which 3 resulted in Sweet Sixteen appearances, the highest round to which the Aggies have advanced.[166] The women's basketball team has had 6 NCAA Tournament appearances, reaching as high as the Elite Eight. They have also competed in the WNIT twice, winning that tournament in 1995.[167]

The men's basketball team is coached by third-year head coach Mark Turgeon.[168] The women's team has been coached by Gary Blair since 2003.[169] Home games are played at the 12,989-seat Reed Arena.[170] G. Rollie White Coliseum, formerly the home of the volleyball and basketball teams, hosted basketball games before Reed Arena opened in 1998.[171]

Notable people

Specimen Medals of Honor were on display at the Memorial Student Center (MSC) on the Texas A&M campus for each of the University's seven recipients, including Horace S. Carswell's medal (pictured above). The medals are temporarily on display in the Sanders Corps Center during renovation of the MSC.

With over 280,000 former students,[172] A&M has one of the largest and most active alumni groups in America. Many Aggies have attained local, national, and international prominence.[173] Jorge Quiroga and Martin Torrijos have served as heads of state for Bolivia and Panama, respectively, and Rick Perry is the current Governor of Texas. Congressmen Joe Barton, Chet Edwards, Jeb Hensarling, and Louie Gohmert, and Austin, Texas, mayor Will Wynn are all graduates.[174]

Aggies made their mark on the gridiron with Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak, title-winning coach Gene Stallings, Houston Oilers defensive tackle Ray Childress, Heisman Trophy winner John David Crow, Heisman runner-up, legislator, and actor John Kimbrough, punt returner Dante Hall, offensive tackle Richmond Webb, Detroit Lions defensive end and punter Yale Lary, Dallas Cowboys assistant coach and former player Dat Nguyen, punter Shane Lechler, and defensive end Ty Warren.[175][176] Paul "Bear" Bryant coached at A&M where "survivors" of his grueling football practice camp at Junction, Texas were nicknamed named The Junction Boys.[177][178] Other famous Aggie athletes include Randy Barnes, indoor/outdoor shotput world record holder, baseball standouts Chuck Knoblauch and Wally Moon; along with Stacy Sykora, Libero for the USA national volleyball team.[176]

Aggies have also made a mark on pop culture. Robert Earl Keen and Lyle Lovett, who often strummed their guitars on the porch of their Northgate home, have become popular country singers.[179] William A. Pailes and Michael E. Fossum became NASA astronauts.[180] Rip Torn is a veteran of the silver screen[176] and Neal Boortz is a nationally syndicated talk show host with the sixth largest listening audience in the United States.[181][182] Wen Ho Lee, a doctoral graduate of A&M, became the subject of a 1999 espionage investigation; though arrested, charges were dropped in 2000.[183]

Many Aggies have become business leaders, particularly in the fields of energy, construction, communications, and chemistry. Current leaders include Jack Whiteside, President of Barnes & Click, Inc.,[184] Lowry Mays, chairman and CEO of Clear Channel Communications,[176] George P. Mitchell, chairman and CEO, Mitchell Energy and Development Corp.,[174] H.B. Zachry, President of the H.B. Zachry Company, John Zachry, CEO of Zachry Corp., David Zachry, President of Zachry Corp.,[185] Mr.Khalid A. Al-Falih, President and CEO of Saudi Aramco,[186] and Eduardo Castro-Wright, CEO of Wal-Mart Stores USA.[187]

Because of A&M's military roots, many Aggies have become leaders in the armed forces, and were featured in the 1943 propaganda film We've Never Been Licked.[188] George H. Gay, Jr., was the sole survivor of Torpedo Squadron 8 in the Battle of Midway.[189] Lieutenant General Jay T. Robbins became a fighter ace in World War II with 22 aerial victories.[190] General Bernard Adolph Schriever, known as "the architect of the Air Force’s ballistic missile and military space program", became the namesake of Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado.[191][192] General Michael Moseley is a former Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force.[193]

In addition, seven Aggies received the Medal of Honor in World War II.[194] The recipients are:


  1. ^ Note that the seal contains the date 1876, the year in which Texas A&M began classes. This is not a discrepancy as both 1871 (the year the Texas Legislature appropriated funds to begin A&M's construction) and 1876 can be considered the dates of establishment depending on the definition used and the reference sourced (even within the Texas A&M University system).
  2. ^ In the U.S. News and World Report ranking, Texas A&M tied with Clemson University, Fordham University, Purdue University, and the University of Minnesota.


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External links

Coordinates: 30°36′37″N 96°20′39″W / 30.610369°N 96.344056°W / 30.610369; -96.344056

Simple English

Texas A&M University is a public university in College Station, Texas. It is a large university, with about 45,000 students. It was founded in 1871. It and the University of Texas at Austin are the two largest universities in the state. For many years, everybody at Texas A&M had to take classes about the army, and Texas A&M is one of only six schools in the country that have a "Corps of Cadets." Texas A&M plays sports in the Big 12 Conference. The George H.W. Bush presidential library is at Texas A&M.

There are campus of Texas A&M located in other cities in Texas, such as Galveston, Laredo, Corpus Christi and Texarkana. There is also a campus in Qatar.


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