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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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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Leader after the Collapse, speaker at Muster: Hurd was campus leader in ‘one of the worst times in our history’

PROVIDED
Rep. Will Hurd will speak at campus Muster this year.
PROVIDED Rep. Will Hurd will speak at campus Muster this year.

Will Hurd said he would trade every leadership lesson he learned from the 1999 Bonfire Collapse if it meant keeping the 12 students who died alive — a campus tragedy that set his student body presidency apart from those before and after him, and an experience that this year’s Muster organizers hope will resonate with the tradition.
Hurd was announced Tuesday as speaker of the 2015 A&M campus Muster ceremony, the largest of more than 400 Muster ceremonies that take place around the world every April 21. Muster ceremonies honor the students, current and former, who died in the past year. The campus muster also honors members of the 50-year reunion class who died in the last year.
Clayton Cromer, Muster executive and economics senior, said Hurd’s time as student body president during the Bonfire tragedy will add another connection to the ceremony.
“He has a really special connection to the Muster ceremony and to A&M and really knows firsthand what it’s like to lose your brothers and sisters in the Aggie family,” Cromer said. “We are really excited to hear his insight, what Muster means to him and how Muster has affected him not only as a student at Texas A&M, but going out in his career with the CIA and to now being a congressman for the U.S. House of Representatives, and just how his A&M experiences have shaped him and how he still connects to Muster through that.”
Hurd spent nearly a decade as a CIA officer after graduation. He is now a U.S. Representative in Congress.
Hurd said he plans to talk about his memories of Texas A&M. He has also listened to stories from the Class of 1965, which will celebrate its 50-year reunion at this year’s Muster, to learn more about what the university was like when they were here.
Hurd said he learned a lot from handling the crisis of the Bonfire collapse, especially about the significance of the Aggie family.
“To be in a position to help the Aggie family through one of the worst times in our history, I learned a lot about crisis communication and dealing with grief and I realized also how important the Aggie family was to all of us,” Hurd said.
Chelsea Potter, communication senior and Muster executive, said Hurd was decided on as the speaker because of his dedication to Texas A&M.
“He was really involved when he was a student here — he was the president of the student body during the Bonfire collapse, and everybody I talked to that was here while that happened said he was put under a lot of pressure during that time and all eyes were kind of on him and he just really stepped up to the plate and was a really good face for A&M and a really good student body president during this really difficult time,” Potter said.
Potter said Hurd’s participation in this year’s Muster will bring something different to the table than in years past.
“I think that Will is really unique because he’s a little bit on the younger side — he brings a different vibe to Muster this year,” Potter said. “I think a lot of the time it’s older, ‘Old Ag’ guys that were in the Corps, Old Army, and I think that Will is kind of the opposite of that. He’s younger, he’s involved in politics, he wasn’t in the Corps. So I think that his kind of new and different side of it — it is going to be awesome.”
Cromer said it is an honor to have Hurd as this year’s speaker.
“We’re all super excited to have such a dynamic individual speaking, an individual who is making a big impact, on not just the Texas A&M community or even the state of Texas, but the entire nation,” Cromer said. “We know he’s super busy and it’s such an honor. I think it speaks to the power of the Muster ceremony and the closeness of the Aggie family that he’s willing to take the time out of his extremely busy schedule to take time to write the speech [and] to come down for the speaker dinner on [April] 20 and the ceremony on [April] 21. We’re so honored to have him come speak.”

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