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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

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

First black full-time professor retires

 
 

Noor Mobeen was working for Exxon Mobil as an engineer and making a “handsome salary” after he graduated from A&M in 2006. But soon, he received a phone call from one of his undergraduate professors, encouraging and challenging him to pursue a graduate degree.
Mobeen enrolled as a doctoral student in the agricultural leadership, education, and communications program under the mentorship of Alvin Larke, the first full-time African-American professor at A&M, who Mobeen considers a father-figure, friend and colleague.
After 32 years, Larke is retiring from his position in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. An advocate of peaceful dialogue surrounding topics of diversity, Larke has impacted many over his 48 years of educating students.
“Mentoring young people – when they become successful it’s like I become successful,” Larke said. “You take a student where you find that student and you watch them grow.”
Before he made his mark at A&M, Larke spent 12 years in South Carolina’s public school system and four years teaching in Missouri, where he received his doctorate in agricultural education.
Larke said engaging with students has been a defining moment of his career as a professor. He said he has seen his tenacity create drive in students throughout the years.
“Working with a person that somebody else has probably said, ‘This person can’t do this,’ and I agree to take them on and they finish that work – that’s excellent,” Larke said.
To commemorate Larke’s influential leadership, Mobeen influential leadership, Mobeen and other former students gathered Thursday morning to surprise and honor Larke’s influential tenure on his final day of class.
Mobeen said he had to visit A&M when he heard about Larke’s retirement. He said he wanted to thank Larke for his professional work and the influence Larke had over Mobeen’s decision to pursue higher education.
“Teaching is an art,” Mobeen said. “It’s not really if you’re gifted – you can only know it if you’re a professor like him and teach in such a way where you teach with passion.”
Mobeen is a professor at NYU Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. He said those in higher education need to promote messages he felt Larke exemplified and that he tried to convey while he was a visiting professor at Quaid-I-Azam University in Pakistan in 2013.
“People in higher education really need to go and promote the message of peace and prosperity, and the only way you do that is take a risk or a chance, and I’ve done that,” Mobeen said. “I used to not promote myself like this because of security issues. It’s just how much you can do because of one person in your life.”
Taylor Turner, junior agriculture communications and journalism major, took Larke’s cultural pluralism class this semester. She said his classes opened up healthy discussion on controversial topics like gun control and bullying.
“Before college, you might be closed-minded,” Turner said. “But you come to his class and hear everything and all the topics that people have to talk about and getting open minded and learning what everyone else has to think and knowing that your opinion isn’t the only way of thinking.”
A supporter of the LGBTQ community, Larke said loving and accepting people, not merely tolerating them, are subjects that he always tried to convey to his students.
“You ought to just try to encourage them to love and accept differences, and that is what I’ve always tried to do in all of my classes,” Larke said. “Love people who are not like you physically. You don’t have to learn to like them but you have to learn to love them.”
Larke, who is also a pastor in Brenham, will continue to preach after his retirement from the university. He said he is appreciative of his time at A&M.
“I’ve done a lot of things since I’ve been here. I’ve been recognized for some things,” Larke said. “I want to keep these things and be available to this institution as long I stay in this community.”

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