The Association of Former Students
|The Association of Former Students|
|Headquarters||College Station, Texas, USA|
|President and CEO||Porter S. Garner III '79|
The Association of Former Students is the official alumni association of Texas A&M University. The Association attracts over 400,000 members and has 242 clubs worldwide. Known to Aggies as simply The Association, the group is dedicated to promoting the interests and welfare of Texas A&M University, perpetuating ties of affection and esteem that students formed during their college days, and serving the current student body.
The Association facilitates numerous programs aimed at connecting the worldwide Texas A&M community, such as Class Reunions, A&M Clubs, the Aggie Ring program, Texas Aggie magazine and an official Web site.
The Association was established on June 26, 1879, when 11 former cadets hosted a reception in Houston initiating the first formal organization of A&M former students. In 1888, the Ex-Cadets Association was reorganized to form the Alumni Association. In the mid-1890s, E.P. Cushing founded Alpha Phi to "work for the upbuilding of the college."  Cushing chose to contact all 3000 former students of the college, rather than just the 300 students who had received degrees. As a result, the term "former student" is used in lieu of "alumnus" or "ex-Aggie" (keeping with tradition that "once an Aggie, always an Aggie").
A coalition was formed between the A&M Alumni Association and Alpha Phi Fraternity in 1919 to form “The Association of Former Students.”
The current organization known as The Association for Former Students was founded in 1925.
Programs and services
Through an annual fund generated by former students and friends of Texas A&M, the Association contributes more than $3.5 million in direct support every year to the university. Those funds are, in turn, applied toward financial aid, student activities, academic enhancement, faculty enrichment and many other key initiatives. In 2001, the Association contributed over $3 million to Texas A&M. Half of the money was given to Texas A&M's Division of Academic Affairs to support scholarship, faculty and staff award programs, orientation and development programs for faculty, and to support the libraries. The other half was provided directly to various school programs, including the campus-wide supplemental instruction tutoring program.
Entering freshmen are first exposed to the Association and its programs the week before school begins their freshmen year. During the university-wide "Gig 'em Week", the Association hosts "Hot Diggity Dog", a free cookout on the grounds of the Clayton W. Williams, Jr. Alumni Center solely for the entering freshmen. Students make the official transition into former students at the Association's "The Next Tradition", a free party where Association members explain the services they offer to former students.
The Association offers many programs for Texas A&M alumni, including career services and a travel program that allows alumni to travel to various destinations around the world. The Association publishes newsletters and sponsors class reunions. Most classes meet every five years, although a single reunion is held each year for all classes which graduated 55 or more years ago. The Association assists in coordination with over 220 local A&M club chapters. The Association maintains a database of Aggie former students, accessible online to members. This online directory is published in book format every three years. For much of its history, the Association received information on students after they graduated. This changed in the early 2000s, and now the Association tracks all students at the university, regardless of whether they graduated. Even students who died before graduation are included in the directory to allow classmates to remember.
All active members of the Association of Former Students receive the Texas Aggie magazine, which is published 6 times per year. As of 2007, it has a circulation of 60,000. The Texas Aggie provides an in-depth look at Texas A&M and the lives of those affiliated with it through feature stories, various departments and full-color photography.
In an effort to capture the history of Texas A&M, The Association has also videotaped numerous former students sharing their experiences with each other as well as with students. Additional recordings of oral histories are being planned and the videos will be incorporated into the enhancements to the Clayton W. Williams, Jr. Alumni Center.
Each year the Association recognizes various former students for their accomplishments since graduation. The highest award given each year is the Distinguished Alumnus Award. This recognition was first offered in 1962, and, as of 2004, had honored 160 former students. The criteria for receiving the award includes "excellence in professional lives and service to A&M and their communities". Since 1955, the Association has awarded annual Distinguished Achievement Awards to faculty and staff of the Texas A&M University System. Intended to honor employees who "inspire other students and staff and 'demonstrate a dedication, deep appreciation, love, and respect for Texas A&M University,'" the awards recognize excellence in teaching, research, individual student relationships, administration, continuing education, graduate mentoring, and staff.
Beginning in 1973, the Association has recognized current students for academic achievement with the Gathright Award. Named for Texas A&M's first president, Thomas S. Gathright, the award recognizes sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have the highest grade point average in their college. Students are nominated for the award by the dean of their respective college. Recipients are recognized at the annual Parents' Weekend All-University Awards Ceremony.
The Association also gives the Buck Weirus Spirit Award to students who "display vision, character and superior dedication to Texas A&M." The award is given annually to up to 55 students. They must be highly involved in the Aggie community, and must "impact student life at Texas A&M and enhance the Aggie Spirit." This can be accomplished through participation in student organizations, Aggie traditions, and university events. The award is named for Richard "Buck" Weirus, a 1942 Texas A&M graduate who served as Executive Director of the Association from 1964 until 1980.
The Association plays a large role in two of the most treasured traditions at Texas A&M: the dispersal of the Aggie Ring, and the annual Aggie Muster.
The Association of Former Students also sponsors the annual Aggie Muster. This first Muster was held June 26, 1883, seven years after the school opened, to allow former students to gather and remember their college days. During the day, the alumni also established on the “Roll Call for the Absent” to honor their classmates who could not attend. In 1889, the gathering was moved to April 21 and became an official school holiday, set aside for the annual cadet track and field competition. Since then, the event has matured into a memorial service for current and former students who died during the preceding year. Although the largest event, the on-campus Muster at Reed Arena, attracts over 14,000 people, more than 400 smaller Musters are held worldwide, including several in Iraq. The "Roll Call" of the dead is still read, and a family or friend of the deceased answers "here."
Twice-yearly, the Association allows current and former students to order Aggie Rings, one of Texas A&M's most well-known and easily recognized symbols. Students earn the Aggie Ring based on credit hours completed at Texas A&M.
The parents of Aggie students who die prior to accumulating the required academic hours receive a Ring Remembrance from the Association. This is an actual Aggie Ring Crest mounted to a golden medallion commemorating the Aggie student. The ceremony to award the Ring Remembrance is held annually at the Clayton W. Williams, Jr. Alumni Center prior to campus Muster on April 21.
The Association maintains three Aggie ring collections. The first collection contains rings awarded to graduates of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, as Texas A&M was previously known. Begun by J. B. "Josh" Sterns, this collection contains rings from 1899 until 1964, when the name of the school was officially changed. The second collection, the Memorial Ring Collection, contains rings representing graduating classes beginning with the class of 1965. The rings in the Memorial Ring Collection are donated by the families of deceased students. The final collection contains historically significant rings, including that of James Earl Rudder, Texas A&M president from 1959 until 1970.
In addition, the Williams Alumni Center features a giant replica of the Aggie Ring (modeled after the 1946 Aggie Ring of Bill Haynes, who donated the funds to build it; the surrounding plaza is called Haynes Ring Plaza). The replica ring is 12 feet tall (symbolizing the honored 12th Man tradition).
- "The Association of Former Students". The Association of Former Students. Retrieved 2008-06-23.
- Benner, Judith Ann (1983). Sul Ross, Soldier, Statesman, Educator. College Station, Texas: Texas A&M University Press. p. 226
- "How Your Gift is Used". The Association of Former Students. Retrieved 2010-07-06.
- "Your Impact on Texas A&M" (PDF). The Association of Former Students. 2006. p. 2. Retrieved 2010-07-06.
- Douglas, Ron (2002-05-11). "Former students good to Texas A&M" (– Scholar search). The Bryan-College Station Eagle. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved 2008-06-23[dead link]
- "A&M's Gig 'em Week Welcomes Ags". KBTX News 3. August 16, 2006. Retrieved 2007-08-10.
- "Party planned for graduating Aggies" (– Scholar search). The Bryan-College Station Eagle. 2007-08-09. Retrieved 2008-06-23[dead link]
- Hensley, Laura (2005-08-20). "Listless spirit no more" (– Scholar search). The Bryan-College Station Eagle. Retrieved 2008-06-23[dead link]
- "Building the Future". Association of Former Students. Retrieved 2008-06-20.
- Ferrell, Christopher (2004-03-15). "A&M honors four as 2004's top alumni" (– Scholar search). The Bryan-College Station Eagle. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved 2008-06-23[dead link]
- Phelps, Janet (2007-05-02). "24 A&M System employees honored" (– Scholar search). The Bryan-College Station Eagle. Retrieved 2008-06-23[dead link]
- "Meridian student honored at Texas A&M" (PDF). Bosque County News. 2007-04-25. p. 1B. Retrieved 2007-08-10.
- "Gathright Scholar Award". Association of Former Students. Retrieved 2010-07-06.
- Rogers, Jodi (August 11, 2003). "True tradition". The Battalion. Retrieved 2007-08-10
- "Buck Weirus Spirit Award Application". Association of Former Students. Retrieved 2007-08-10.
- "Aggie Muster". Emerald Coast A&M Club. Retrieved 2006-12-17.
- Hallett, Vicky (2005). "The Aggie Way of Life". U.S. News & World Report. Archived from the original on 2005-08-26. Retrieved 2007-06-25.
- "Andrea Grace Gent: July 3, 1985 - January 30, 2005". AndreaGent.org. Retrieved 2007-08-10.
- Burelson, Andrew (July 21, 2004). "Family donates new Aggie ring to Collection". The Battalion. Retrieved 2007-08-10
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Texas A&M University|