The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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‘A living Aggie institution:’ Lane Stephenson retires after 50 years at Texas A&M

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Photo by Aimee Rodriguez
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For the Last 50 years, Lane Stephenson has worked for Texas A&M and seen some of the biggest changes and events in the university’s history. From being hired by James Earl Rudder to the 1999 Bonfire Collapse, when Stephenson retires from the Division of Marketing and Communications at the end of January he’ll be leaving more than a successful career behind him: He’ll be leaving a legacy.
“A&M has been my professional life for over half a century now,” Stephenson said. “It’s been a good run and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Sherylon Carroll, associate vice president of communications and colleague of 25 years, said the integrity, dedication and character of Stephenson has made him one of the people she admires most in the world.
“When he’s talking about A&M, they’re not just words because he truly believes that we are the best,” Carroll said. “And one of the reasons that we are and that people know so much about us is because of the 50-year journey and legacy of Lane Stephenson. It is unmatched by anyone I’ve ever met in my career.”
There are many big moments of Stephenson’s career that stand out in his memory. Many of these were exciting times, such as A&M’s selection into the Association of American Universities, the switch to the SEC, the centennial anniversary of A&M and the inauguration of Jack K. Williams. There have also been moments of tragedy, such as the collapse of Bonfire stack.
“That was a heart wrenching time,” Stephenson said. “When I was called, I was probably out there 30 or 45 minutes later. I still get choked up every time I go to the Bonfire Memorial and I remember all of it.”
Stephenson started as the Assistant Director of Public Information at Texas A&M in the fall of 1966, a time in which the university was undergoing major changes and had a very different student body. A&M only had around 10,000 students, most of whom were still male and military-based.
“I came here right after all the really major transformational decisions had been made,” Stephenson said. “By that, I mean the decision to allow women to enroll, the Corps was made optional and the first African Americans were admitted during that time.”
Gabe Bock, current director of broadcasting at TexAgs, Class of 2003 and one of Stephenson’s former students, said he not only enjoyed Stephenson’s class, but it affected him as a person and a professional.   
“Lane was asked to teach a journalism class on media relations my final year at Texas A&M, in 2003,” Bock said. “It was that semester that I learned what true professionalism looked like. He was very prepared and dove into us in that small class in an effort to get us ready for our lives in journalism. The day I got my Aggie Ring, I called Lane to tell him that I would be late to class once I got my ring. He told me to not worry about class and to enjoy that day — a day I would never forget. That perspective and understanding of what being an Aggie is all about is part of what has made Lane such a special piece of Aggieland over the past 50 years.”
Reflecting on Stephenson as a person, Bock said he is a vital part of the university’s history.
“Lane Stephenson is a living Aggie institution,” Bock said. “To make it 50 years in essentially the same role is unheard of these days and it takes a special person to pull that off. Think about this: When Lane began his career in Aggieland, women were just starting to be allowed admission into A&M. There were only a few thousand students and just a handful of women. Through the years, this school has grown into a 60,000-student mega school and there are officially more female students than male students. Lane has been at A&M for so long and has witnessed so many changes over the last five decades. And through it all, he has proven to be a trusted deputy for so many men and women leading this university to where it is today.”
As these changes began to affect the landscape of A&M, Stephenson worked under General James Earl Rudder and then Jack K. Williams, Rudder’s successor.
Former Texas A&M President Jack Williams is one of many people who Stephenson credits as an instrumental part of his career. Stephenson thinks of Williams as one of his mentors. There are many others who Stephenson credits as playing major roles in his time at A&M, both as coworkers and friends: Patsy Albright, Sherylon Carroll, Robert Walker, Randy Matson, Tom Nelson and Alan Cannon, just to name a few.
These were not the only people who were touched by Stephenson’s long career at A&M. His own family was changed as well. Stephenson’s wife, Mickie, was the first in the family to earn a degree from A&M when she received her master’s degree in 1975. Stephenson followed with a master’s in 1977.
From then on, Stephenson instilled the love of A&M in his family. All three of his children have graduated from A&M and his grandson, Tyler Stephenson, is a junior currently pursuing a degree in management information systems. After coming on family visits to A&M, Tyler said he considers his grandfather to be the major reason he chose to attend A&M, he said.
“I consider him to be one of my best friends,” Tyler said. “I try to be like him every day. The amount of people he knows and the type of person he tries to be is the way that I want to live my life. I definitely look up to him.”
Stephenson’s passion for Texas A&M made him special and helped to always make sure that all news was about Texas A&M, Carroll said.
“He could tell me things about A&M that I never thought about,” Carroll said. “He helped me to continue to love my institution and helped me to keep my eye on the ball. That it’s all about the institution all the time.”
Carroll also describes Stephenson as a model of the core values of Texas A&M. From having a sense of humor around the office and always being willing to help others, to walking her to her car after football games to make sure she made it safe, he embodies the core values in every way, Carroll said.
“It doesn’t get any better than Lane,” Carroll said. “It just doesn’t. In addition to being an amazing public servant and ambassador for our institution, he’s an amazing friend, confidant and mentor.”
Throughout his time at A&M, Stephenson has worked on many different projects and stepped into several different roles when needed. During his first few years at the university, Stephenson stepped in as the adviser for The Battalion and The Aggieland. He worked in this position for seven years. He also taught in the journalism department for two semesters, another role he hadn’t originally signed up for, he said.
Although Stephenson will be retiring, he will not be fully leaving A&M, as he will still be assisting on an upcoming project, he said.
“I love this place,” Stephenson said. “I’d like to see how the things that are in progress now turn out, and I hope to be a part of it.”
For those who’ve worked with Stephenson, they will remember more than just his phenomenal career, but also the hard work, humor, inspiration, dedication and friendship that he brought to the office.
“I view our friendship as the ultimate blessing and I would not be half the person I am today without Lane Stephenson,” Carroll said. “He continues to push me and support me. And it’s not just me, it’s everyone around. He pushes you to be the very best that you can be and that is a true blessing to have a person in your life that will do that 24/7.”

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