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

Sophomore LHP Shane Sdao (38) reacts after a strikeout during Texas A&Ms game against Texas at Disch-Falk Field on Tuesday, March 5, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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Junior Mary Stoiana reacts during Texas A&M’s match against Oklahoma at the NCAA Women’s Tennis Regional at Mitchell Tennis Center on Sunday, May 5, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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No. 13 Texas A&M women’s tennis met Virginia in the quarterfinal of the NCAA Tournament on Friday, May 17 at the Greenwood Tennis Center...

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Beekeeper Shelby Dittman scoops bees back into their hive during a visit on Friday, April 5, 2024. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)
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Shalina Sabih, Sports Writer • May 1, 2024

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Kennedy White, 19, sits for a portrait in the sweats she wore the night of her alleged assault inside the Y.M.C.A building that holds Texas A&M’s Title IX offices in College Station, Texas on Feb. 16, 2024 (Ishika Samant/The Battalion).
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Scenes from 74
Scenes from '74
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The Battalion May 4, 2024

Gates: stepping out and stepping up

While enrolled as an undergraduate at Texas A&M, Class of 2009 graduates have seen two presidents of the United States and two presidents of Texas A&M. The two presidencies would seem more distant except for the role of one man in connecting the two offices.
On Dec. 18, 2006, Robert Gates was sworn in as Secretary of Defense under the George Bush administration. Simultaneously, Gates vacated his role as Texas A&M president.
Gates left his presidency in order to serve his nation in a higher office. In an e-mail informing students of his departure, Gates said, “I’m deeply honored, but I’m deeply saddened.”
Many students and faculty echoed his sentiments. Although having an Aggie in Washington, D.C. provides honor and pride to Aggies everywhere, Aggie students expressed disappointment in losing the beloved president.
“It was sad to see him go, but it was good to know he was going to serve our country,” said senior applied mathematics major Annchen Knodt.
Gates had already served Texas A&M in a formal office before assuming the presidency; from 1999-2001, he acted as interim dean of Mays Business School. Gates began his term as Texas A&M President on Aug. 1, 2002, after former president Ray Bowen stepped down from office in order to concentrate on teaching in the Texas A&M Department of Mechanical Engineering.
The impact Gates had on the campus and the spirit of the 12th Man was evident at his sendoff ceremony held at the end of 2006.
“The ceremony when he left was so cool,” Knodt said. “That was one of my big Aggie pride moments – just how everyone supported our president.”
The ceremony mirrored both the patriotic and Aggie heart within Gates.
“What stuck out in my mind was the yell,” said Allison Vierus, a junior English major. “We said, ‘Beat the hell out of terrorists.'”
Gates has formally returned to Aggieland twice since he left his presidency. In October 2007, Gates was on campus to receive the George Bush Award for Excellence in Public Service for 2007. On April 21, 2009, Gates served as a speaker at Aggie Muster.
“It was cool to see him speak at Muster because I feel that, as a whole, the student body misses him because he was such a great president,” said Vierus. “You could tell how much he really loves Texas A&M and he was glad to be back.”
After Gates assumed his new office, Texas A&M began the long process of selecting a new president. Eddie Davis, president of the Texas A&M Foundation, served as interim president during the selection process.
The Presidential Search Advisory Committee and the Board of Regents oversaw the process of choosing a new University president. After receiving over 100 interested applicants, the Board of Regents slowly narrowed the applicant pool until, at the end of 2007, they named Elsa A. Murano as the sole finalist.
On Jan. 3, 2008, Murano officially entered office, ending the transition period and beginning her time to provide direction for the University. Since in office, Murano has emphasized Vision 2020 as a goal that unites all Aggies in their relative fields and studies. The process of selecting a new leader for one of the largest universities in the country can be painstakingly long, but students appreciate the impact the decision can make.
“I was really impressed with how smoothly the transition [went],” Knodt said.
The new generation of Aggies is still able to appreciate the devoted leader Aggieland found in Gates.
“It was good for the country, bad for Texas A&M because we lost a fearless leader,” said freshman mechanical engineering major Kevin Havis. “I think it’s a sign of his integrity that he’s held over from one president to another.”
While graduates transition out of college and into many changes, Gates will be somewhat of a constant. Gates was the only Cabinet member from Bush’s presidency whom was selected by President Barack Obama to continue in his office.
The physical presence of Gates may no longer linger in the halls of Aggieland, but his fierce spirit and loyal heart will always be felt by graduates, students and faculty alike.

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