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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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12 former students to be honored at the Distinguished Alumni Gala

The+Clayton+W.+Williams%2C+Jr.+Alumni+Center+and+the+Distinguished+Alumni+Tribute+from+the+Plank+Bridge+on+Wednesday%2C+Sep.+14%2C+2022.
Photo by Cameron Johnson

The Clayton W. Williams, Jr. Alumni Center and the Distinguished Alumni Tribute from the Plank Bridge on Wednesday, Sep. 14, 2022.

 The 60th annual Distinguished Alumni Gala will honor 12 former students of Texas A&M. The highly anticipated event will host 1,000 attendees in Reed Arena on Sept. 16 at 6 p.m. to celebrate the life and achievements of the honorees. 

The esteemed Distinguished Alumnus Award is the highest honor that is awarded to former students. It has only been presented to 318 alumni, according to the Association of Former Students. With A&M’s former student network totaling over 565,000, only a small fraction of the top 1% of alumni have been recognized. 

The Association of Former Students announced the 2022 recipients of the Distinguished Alumnus Award in August via a press release. 

The Association congratulates this year’s selected Distinguished Alumni:

Travis L. Smith Jr., Class of 1898

Gen. Joseph W. Ashy, Class of 1962 

Thomas W. Powell, Class of 1962 

Joe R. Fowler, Class of 1968 

William Mahomes Jr., Class of 1969 

Mark A. Fischer, Class of 1972 

Clifton L. Thomas Jr., Class of 1972 

Mark W. Albers, Class of 1979 

Gregory Cokinos, Class of 1979 

Bill Jones, Class of 1981 

Jimmy Williams Jr., Class of 1983 

Elaine Mendoza, Class of 1987 

In 1962, the first Distinguished Alumnus Awards were presented, although the event was intended to be a one-time occasion. However, the event was so well received that it has since become an annual tradition to recognize the achievements of Aggies, according to Vice President of the Association of Former Students Scot Walker.

Walker, Class of 1990, said there are three general qualifications for the award: All recipients have excelled in their profession, shown dedication to their community and remained devoted to A&M.

“All of those things can take a lot of different forms,” Walker said. “These distinguished alumni exemplify the Aggie Core Values of Texas A&M University.”

The honorees have been selected for their superior demonstration of the Aggie Core Values: Respect, Excellence, Leadership, Loyalty, Integrity and Selfless Service, and Walker said this is one of the highest awards for former students.

“[We want to] recognize this year’s distinguished alumni in a commensurate way,” Walker said. “It is an exceedingly rare honor. This is a very esteemed award.” 

Although the primary focus of the event is to recognize the most recent honorees, all past recipients are honored annually. The Association said it wants to honor all of the recipients by displaying their achievements, excellence and service in a befitting manner. During the gala, the newest recipients will share their unique and inspiring stories with attendees. 

The evening will be filled with fun and fellowship to celebrate the impressive achievements of the recipients. The event will conclude with a rendition of the Aggie War Hymn, purposely ending in time so attendees can participate in the Sept. 16 Midnight Yell, according to Walker. 

 One of this year’s honorees, Jimmy Williams Jr., Ph.D, Class of 1983, said he was thrilled to discover he was selected.

“Out of almost half a billion graduates, only [318] are distinguished alumni,” Williams said. “It is quite an honor and recognition. I think with that recognition comes an opportunity to do more impactful things for [A&M].” 

Williams said his experience attending A&M was foundational to his career. Williams said he gained an essential understanding of leadership that he was able to apply to his professional and personal life. 

“Choose to explore, grow and trust the [A&M] experience,” Williams said. “Trust the outcomes that can be impactful for you, your career, your family and your engagement at [A&M]. Trust the process.” 

After graduating from A&M with a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering, Williams returned to Missouri to pursue his MBA in marketing and management, later obtaining his doctorate in engineering and policy.

Additionally, Williams has served on the boards of multiple A&M organizations. In 2018, he was the first Black chair of the board of The Association of Former Students. In 2020, he co-chaired A&M’s Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. His extensive experience, along with his other accomplishments, testifies to all of the ideal qualities of a distinguished alumni.

“[The recipients are] all so deserving,” Walker said. “There is such a diverse collection of achievements, backgrounds and experiences.” 

Walker said he strongly encourages all readers to view the 2022 recipients’ biographies, available on The Association’s website. Additionally, all of the previously recognized distinguished alumni’s biographies are posted as well.

For future recipients, individuals must be formally nominated through the appropriate forms and steps listed on The Association’s website. Online nominations for 2023 Distinguished Alumnus are open until Aug. 31, 2023. 

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About the Contributor
Ana Renfroe
Ana Renfroe, Head News Editor
Ana Renfroe, Class of 2025, is a journalism junior with a minor in professional writing from Bryan, Texas. Ana has served as The Battalion's head news editor from May 2023 to May 2024. Previously, she was the assistant news editor for the spring 2023 semester. Ana has covered breaking news, politics, and more. She typically covered the Texas A&M System and university administration, Texas and Bryan-College Station politics, student government and more. Ana previously hosted and produced episodes of The Batt Signal, The Battalion's news podcast. Additionally, she was a copyeditor and feature writer for Maroon Life magazine, and helped contribute to the Aggieland Yearbook.
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