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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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June 16, 2024

The Rudder way

Tarleton+State+University+recently+unveiled+a+statue+of+General+James+Earl+Rudder+on+a+major+pedestrian+crossroad+on+their+campus.%26%23160%3B%26%23160%3B
Photo by Courtesy of Kurt Mogonye

Tarleton State University recently unveiled a statue of General James Earl Rudder on a major pedestrian crossroad on their campus.  

Just as A&M students do when they pass the Rudder Auditorium and statue on campus, students at Tarleton State University can now reflect on General James Earl Rudder’s life when they use the campus’ new pedestrian walkway, Rudder Way.
On October 19, Tarleton State University officials unveiled a new statue of General Rudder on the new Rudder Way walkway. The statue stands at a major pedestrian crossroad on campus and was designed to inspire students to live their lives as Rudder would. It was designed by a Tarleton Distinguished Alumnus, Mike Tabor and funded by A&M System Regent, Tony Buzbee. Soon, the university will add relief panels throughout the walkway that feature General Rudder’s quotes and align them with Tarleton’s core values: tradition, integrity, civility, leadership, excellence and service.
James Earl Rudder began his education at Tarleton in 1927. After successfully leading his football team to championships and serving as a ROTC lieutenant for the university, he transferred to Texas A&M, where he obtained his bachelor’s degree in industrial education in 1932.
After graduating, Rudder was commissioned a second lieutenant of infantry for the U.S. Army Reserve. In 1941, Rudder was called to active duty and eventually took part in the D-Day landings as Commanding Officer of the U.S Army’s 2nd Ranger Battalion.
Once he returned from the war, Rudder served his community by holding many titles. These include mayor of Brady, Texas, president of Texas A&M University and president of the Texas A&M System. Under Rudder’s leadership, Texas A&M integrated, began allowing women to attend, and became an acclaimed research facility.
F. Dominic Dottavio, Tarleton State University President, called General Rudder a leader of exceptional abilities and vision. He said Rudder is a great representation of Tarleton’s values and he wants the new walkway to serve as a place where people can reflect and understand how to live a life that is meaningful and inspiring.
“As a Tarleton alumnus, we believe that General Rudder symbolizes the highest standards of the university and the nation,” Dottavio said. “He was both a public servant and an American hero. General Rudder was known to put duty and honor before himself. Because of that, he really personified our core values throughout his life.”
Guyler Sims, an international studies freshman at Tarleton, said Rudder is an inspiring leader, both inside and outside of the military. He said the walkway is now his favorite spot on campus.
“[General Rudder] never settled for being mediocre,” Sims said. “He always did his best in whatever he pursued, whether it was in the military or for the university system. While he was integrating the university and allowing women to enroll, he didn’t let other people’s opinions discourage him from doing what was right. To me, living the Rudder way is simply being courageous.”
Kelsey Jones, Agribusiness freshman at A&M, said students on both campuses should utilize Rudder’s statues as a way to reflect on his life.
“We should look to him as a leader because he was great at creating change,” Jones said. “General Rudder made a huge impact on the A&M System and it’s important for students to look back on his life and learn to give back, just as he did.”
Dottavio said the new walkway and statue will serve as reminders of Rudder’s great service and integrity.
“I think that both current and future students will sense tremendous pride in being a student at the same university that so deeply affected General Rudder,” Dottavio said. “I expect the story of his life to inspire and motivate thousands of our students to try to live up to those high expectations that the General set for himself and all those that he led throughout his lifetime.”

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