History of the Office
Texas A&M is a university known for its rich traditions and rich history. As the state’s first public institution for higher education, Texas A&M’s past successes, current directions, and future visions are all due to the leadership of its presidents. Past presidents of Texas A&M range from former governors and legislators to professors and researchers. Some have guided the university through the nation’s darkest hours, some have helped further Texas A&M as a national and international leader in teaching and research. A list of those who serve and and have served is provided below with information regarding their presidency.
R. Bowen Loftin, Ph.D.
President of Texas A&M University February 12, 2010 – Current
Interim President of Texas A&M University June 15, 2009 – February 11, 2010
Before his appointment as interim president, R. Bowen Loftin served as vice president and chief executive officer of Texas A&M University’s branch campus in Galveston, where he was also a professor of maritime systems engineering. He has also been a professor of electrical and computer engineering and professor of computer science at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, and executive director of the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center. Earlier, he was professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science and director of the NASA Virtual Environments Research Institute at the University of Houston.
Elsa A. Murano, Ph.D.
President of Texas A&M University January 3, 2008 – June 15, 2009
Elsa Murano became the president of Texas A&M on January 3, 2008. Previous to the position of president, Murano served as vice chancellor for The A&M System and dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University. She was the first woman and first Hispanic-American to hold the Texas A&M presidency. Murano resigned on June 15, 2009, to return to teaching and research as a professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science.
Eddie J. Davis, Ph.D.
Interim President of Texas A&M University December 17, 2006 – January 2, 2008
Eddie J. Davis, president of the Texas A&M Foundation since 1993, took leave from this position to serve as Interim President after the departure of Dr. Gates and until the appointment of Dr. Elsa Murano.
Robert M. Gates, Ph.D.
President of Texas A&M University August 1, 2002 – December 16, 2006
Robert Gates previously served as interim dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M from 1999-2001 and as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from November 6, 1991 until January 20, 1993. On December 16, 2006, Gates officially resigned the presidency to assume the role of Secretary of Defense of the United States after his nomination by President George W. Bush.
Ray M. Bowen, Ph.D.
President of Texas A&M University June 1, 1994 – July 31, 2002
Prior to being selected to lead his alma mater, Ray Bowen was the interim president of Oklahoma State University. Bowen’s tenure as president was highlighted by the launching of “Vision 2020″ – Texas A&M’s roadmap to attain consensus “top 10″ status among the nation’s public universities by the year 2020. Bowen also led the university during one of its worst on-campus tragedies – the collapse of the 1999 Bonfire in which 12 Aggies were killed and 27 others injured. He became a faculty member in the Department of Mechanical Engineering on July 31, 2002. Dr. Bowen, a 1958 graduate of Texas A&M, was the fourth Aggie to serve as president, following Dr. Jarvis Miller ’50, Gen. James Earl Rudder ’32 and Dr. Marion Thomas Harrington ’22.
E. Dean Gage, DVM
Acting President of Texas A&M University September 1, 1993 – June 1, 1994
E. Dean Gage was serving as a provost and academic vice-president at Texas A&M when he was appointed acting President on September 1, 1993, following the promotion of President Mobley. After withdrawing his name as a candidate from the presidential search he left the office on June 1, 1994.
William H. Mobley, Ph.D.
President of Texas A&M University September 1, 1988 – August 31, 1993
Chancellor of Texas A&M University System September 1, 1993 – June 12, 1994
Serving as the Executive Deputy Chancellor of the A&M System, William Mobley assumed the presidency of Texas A&M University on September 1, 1988 following the resignation of Frank Vandiver. Mobley served as president until his promotion to chancellor of The A&M System on September 1, 1993. On June 12, 1994, Mobley resigned the chancellor’s position in order to return to teaching.
Frank E. Vandiver, Ph.D.
President of Texas A&M University September 1, 1981- August 31, 1988
Formerly the President of North Texas State University, Frank Vandiver was elected president of Texas A&M on September 1, 1981 and served for seven years. On September 1, 1988, Vandiver resigned to head the Mosher Defense Institute at Texas A&M University.
Charles H. Samson, Jr., Ph.D.
Acting President of Texas A&M University July 10, 1980-August 31, 1981
Serving as the head of the Department of Civil Engineering since 1964, Charles Samson was appointed the university’s acting president on July 10, 1980, following the re-assignment of Jarvis Miller. Samson served until September 1, 1981, when Frank E. Vandiver assumed the Presidency, and Samson was subsequently appointed the vice president for planning.
Jarvis E. Miller, Ph.D.
President of Texas A&M University August 1, 1977-July 10, 1980
Jarvis Miller was serving as the director of the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station (now Texas AgriLife Research) when named president of Texas A&M University on August 1, 1977. Miller was reassigned by the Board of Regents as a Special Assistant to the Chancellor of the Texas A&M University System on July 10, 1980. Dr. Miller, a 1950 graduate of Texas A&M, was the third Aggie to serve as president, following Gen. James Earl Rudder ’32 and Dr. Marion Thomas Harrington ’22.
W. Clyde Freeman, Jr.
Acting CEO of Texas A&M University, 1976 and 1977
W. Clyde Freeman, Jr., took leave from his role as Executive Vice President for Administration to serve as Acting CEO while President Jack Williams recuperated from two heart attacks.
Jack Kenny Williams, Ph.D.
President of Texas A&M University November 1, 1970-July 31, 1977
President of the Texas A&M University System November 1, 1970-July 31, 1977
Chancellor of the Texas A&M University System August 1, 1977-January 24, 1979
Jack Williams was the vice-president for academic affairs for the University of Tennessee System when he was elected to be the president of Texas A&M University and president of the Texas A&M University System. His tenure for both roles began on November 1, 1970 and he was elevated to Chancellor of the System on May 24, 1977. Williams resigned as chancellor on January 24, 1979 in order to return to teaching.
Alvin Roubal Luedecke, LL.D.
Acting President March 30, 1970-November 1, 1970
Alvin Luedecke was serving as the associate dean of the College of Engineering when he was appointed to be the acting president. Luedecke served from March 30, 1970 until November 1, 1970.
Major General James Earl Rudder
President of Texas A&M University July 1, 1959-March 23, 1970
President of the Texas A&M University System September 1, 1965-March 23, 1970
James Earl Rudder, hero of D-Day as Commander of the U.S. Army’s 2nd Ranger Battalion, which stormed the beach at Pointe du Hoc, was serving as vice president when appointed president on June 27, 1959 (effective July 1, 1959). In 1963, during Rudder’s administration, the Agricultural & Mechanical College of Texas became Texas A&M University. Enrollment doubled as participation in the Corps of Cadets was made optional and women students were admitted. In addition, the research program was greatly expanded and academic and faculty standards were improved. On September 1, 1965, when Dr. Harrington retired as chancellor of the Texas A&M University System, the title was changed to president, and Gen. Rudder took over this position as well, both of which he held until his death on March 23, 1970. Gen. Rudder received an honorary law degree from Baylor University in 1960. General Rudder, a 1932 graduate of Texas A&M, was the second Aggie to serve as president, after Dr. Marion Thomas Harrington ’22.
David Willard Williams, M.S.
Acting President December 22, 1956-September 1, 1957
David Williams was serving as vice president for agriculture when Dr. David Morgan resigned. Williams was appointed acting president on December 22, 1956 and he served in the capacity until September 1, 1957.
David Hitchens Morgan, Ph.D.
President September 1, 1953-December 21, 1956
David Morgan was the Dean of the College when he was elected president on June 17, 1953. Morgan’s tenure as president began September 1, 1953 until his resignation on December 21, 1956.
Marion Thomas Harrington, Ph.D.
President June 3, 1950-September 1, 1953 and September 1, 1957-July 1, 1959
Chancellor September 1, 1953-August 31, 1965
Marion Harrington was serving as the Dean of the College when he was elected president on September 22, 1949, though it wasn’t effective until “the end of the present school year.” This was interpreted to be June 3, 1950, and on that date he officially took over the reins of the presidency. He served until September 1, 1953 when he became the second chancellor of the System, succeeding Mr. Gilchrist. Dr. Harrington was elected president a second time on August 23, 1957, and in addition to his duties as chancellor served as president from September 1, 1957, until July 1, 1959. He retired as chancellor on August 31, 1965. Harrington was the first graduate of Texas A&M to serve as president and also as chancellor. Dr. Harrington, a 1922 graduate of Texas A&M, was the first Aggie to serve as president (and also as chancellor).
Gibb Gilchrist, C.E.
President May 27, 1944-September 1, 1948
Chancellor of the Texas A&M System September 1, 1948-August 31, 1953
Gibb Gilchrist was appointed dean of the School of Engineering in 1937 and elected president of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas on May 27, 1944. He served as the president of the College until September 1, 1948, when the Texas A&M System was created. At this time, Gilchrist became the first chancellor of the A&M System, serving until his retirement on August 31, 1953.
Frank Cleveland Bolton, M.S. LL.D.
Acting President August 9, 1943-May 27, 1944
President September 1, 1948-June 3, 1950
Frank Bolton was appointed as a professor of electrical engineering at Texas A&M in 1909, but was also a vice-president and dean of the College. Bolton was appointed the acting president on August 9, 1943 and served in the capacity until May 27, 1944. Bolton was again elected, this time as president, on July 9, 1948 and he served until June 3, 1950.
Thomas Otto Walton
President September 3, 1925-August 7, 1943
At time of his election as president of the College, Dr. Thomas O. Walton was serving as the director of extension service. Walton was elected on September 3, 1925 and resigned on August 7, 1943.
William Bennett Bizzell, Ph.D.
President August 25, 1914-September 1, 1925
William Bizzell was serving as the president of the College of Industrial Arts at Denton, Texas, when he was elected as president of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas on August 25, 1914. Eleven years later, Dr. Bizzell resigned effective September 1, 1925, to become the president of the University of Oklahoma.
Charles Puryear, M.A., LL.D.
Acting President September 1, 1913-August 24, 1914
Charles Puryear’s career at the College began with his appointment as associate professor of civil engineering and physics at Texas A&M in 1889, followed by appointments as a professor of mathematics from 1890-1932 and as dean of the College from 1907-1932. Puryear was appointed as president pro tem on August 18, 1913, but in view of the leave of absence granted to Colonel Milner, it is a safe assumption that his duties as acting president began on September 1, 1913, and lasted until August 25, 1914. Puryear also served as acting president for another month or six weeks during the interim between the resignation of Dr. Bizzell and the election of Dr. T.O. Walton.
Robert Teague Milner
President September 1, 1908-October 1, 1913
Colonel Robert Teague Milner served as a member of the Texas state legislature from 1887-1892 and was the first commissioner of the Texas Department of Agriculture. As such he was an ex-officio member of the university’s Board of Directors, who elected him to be president of the College on August 7, 1908. Milner served as president until his resignation on June 9, 1913 which became effective on October 1, 1913.
Henry Hill Harrington
President September 8, 1905-August 7, 1908
Henry Hill Harrington was a professor of chemistry and mineralogy at Texas A&M when he was elected as president of the College. Harrington served as president from September 8, 1905 until his resignation on August 7, 1908.
David Franklin Houston, M.A., LL.D.
President July 1, 1902-September 1, 1905
Dr. Houston served as the dean of the faculty for the University of Texas from 1899-1902 and was as elected president of the College on April 7, 1902, and became president effective July 1, 1902. However, three years later, Houston resigned on August 24, 1905 (effective September 1) to become the next president of the University of Texas.
Lafayette Lumpkin Foster
President July 1, 1898-December 2, 1901
Lafayette Lumpkin Foster was a member of the Texas state legislature and was also a state commissioner of agriculture. Even though he was elected president of the College on June 7, 1898, Foster and the Board of Directors agreed to set the effective date as July 1, 1898 and he served as president until his death on December 2, 1901. President Foster was buried in the College Cemetery, a small burial plot which was originally on the site where Duncan Hall is now located. His remains and those of several others were moved in the late 1930s to their present location on University property west of the railroad tracks.
Roger Haddock Whitlock, M.E.
Acting President January 17, 1898-July 1, 1898 and December 10, 1901-July 1, 1902
First appointed as professor of mechanical engineering in 1883, Whitlock actually served twice as acting president in an interim role. The first was from January 17, 1898, to July 1, 1989, following the death of President Lawrence Sullivan Ross, and the second was from December 10, 1901 to July 1, 1902, following the death of President Lafayette Lumpkin Foster. In 1906, Whitlock resigned from the College.
Lawrence Sullivan Ross
President January 20, 1891-January 3, 1898
Before becoming president, Ross served as governor of the State of Texas from January 18, 1887, to January 20, 1891. Even though he was elected President of the College on July 1, 1890, it was not “to take effect at the end of his present term as governor,” which was January 20, 1891. He served as president until his death on January 3, 1898. To this day, students pass by his likeness-some requesting his help-as his statue graces the Academic Plaza in the heart of main campus.
William Lorraine Bringhurst, Ph.D.
Acting President July 1, 1890-January 20, 1891
Dr. Bringhurst held faculty positions as a professor of physics from 1882-1885 and then as a professor of English and history from 1885-1893. He served as acting president from July 1, 1890, to January 20, 1891.
Louis Lowry McInnis, A.M.
Chairman of the Faculty January 24, 1888-July 1, 1890
Louis Lowry McInnis was appointed an adjunct professor of mathematics on November 9, 1877 and became a full professor in 1879. On January 21, 1888, he was appointed chairman of the faculty by the Board of Directors and served in the capacity until July 1, 1890.
Hardaway Hunt Dinwiddie
Chairman of the Faculty July 23, 1883-December 11, 1887
Dinwiddie originally came to the College in November of 1879 as professor of physics and chemistry. However, following the authorization of the office of chairman of the faculty on July 19, 1883, the faculty elected him as its chairman on July 23, 1883-a position which he filled until his death on December 11, 1887.
James Reid Cole
Acting President April 1, 1883-June 26, 1883
President June 26, 1883-July 19, 1883
Cole was originally appointed as professor of English language, history, and literature on November 22, 1879, following the dismissal of the faculty originally appointed by Gathright. Following the resignation of then-president James on April 1, 1883, Cole was appointed acting president. Of note is that on July 19, 1883, the Office of the President was abolished in favor of a Chairman of the Faculty System.
John Garland James
President November 22, 1879-April 1, 1883
John Garland James was elected November 22, 1879 as president. He resigned just over 3 years later on April 1, 1883.
Thomas Sanford Gathright
President July 15, 1876-November 21, 1879
Gathright was elected president on July 15, 1876. He was relieved of the presidency November 21, 1879 with the reorganization of the College.