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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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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

A&M’s first woman prof speaks out

Minorities were regarded very differently at Texas A&M in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Dr. Betty Miller Unterberger and Fred McClure said Monday at the George Bush Presidential Library Conference Center as part of “Campus with a Dream” week.
Campus with a Dream has been a weeklong event sponsored by students, faculty and staff at A&M in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Unterberger, a history professor at A&M and regents professor, shared anecdotes of her experiences and struggles at A&M when she first came to the campus from the University of California at Irvine.
“I felt very much alone at Texas A&M, but it wasn’t strange to me,” she said.
Unterberger said that at that time there were only three women professors in Southern California.
“I had been told that I had no reason to be taking the bread out of the mouths of deserving male grad students,” Unterberger said. “I learned that these people who treated me and all women at that time as they did, that if they knew better, they would do better.”
Unterberger said the first black student who attended her class in 1969 became very close to her.
“He came to see me in tears one day saying that on his dormitory room was a big sign that said ‘N— Go Home!,” Unterberger said. “I took him under my wing. I tried to have students understand one another. The only thing that makes us different is our backgrounds, experience and differences in cultures.”
McClure, who was stuck in a snow storm in Washington, D.C., spoke to the audience via phone.
“I had the honor and privilege of being student body president in 1976 and 1977,” McClure said. “There were only 100 to 150 black students at Texas A&M.”
McClure said that at A&M he only encountered overt racism once.
“I hope that we are closer to Dr. King’s dream than we were 30 years ago,” McClure said. “One of the ways we truly grow is if we surround ourselves with those whose views, status in life or background is different than ours.”
McClure said he thinks programs such as Campus With a Dream are steps in the right direction.
“Campus with a Dream Week is an important time for our campus to reflect on a history that affects us directly,” said Student Body President and senior accounting major Matt Josefy. “By looking at the legacy of MLK, we’re able to better understand events not only in our nation, but right here at Texas A&M.”
Joe Williams, executive vice president of diversity for the Memorial Student Center, said Campus with a Dream focuses on the separate importance of King’s dream and how it applies to society, not just race and ethnicity.
“Martin Luther King Jr. wanted to focus on content with character,” Williams said.
Unterberger and McClure were chosen as this year’s keynote speakers because Unterberger was the first woman to teach at Texas A&M in 1968, and McClure was the first black student body president in 1976, Williams said.

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