Of the many images of Professor Mayo that I’ve seen, I think I like this one the best. You can see that he had a broad view of what it meant to be a college president. There he is, standing behind the plow with his coat off and reins draped across his shoulders, a look of earnest determination on his face.
I can imagine him wondering how in the world he could ever build the college he dreamed of – the one where, as he describes it, “no industrious, ambitious youth shall be denied an education if I can prevent it.”
I admire everything I know about the man – his grit, his determination, and most of all, his passion for making education available to those he knew would put it to good use.
I wonder what he’d think today if he were to set foot on campus. He was certainly a man of strong and clear purpose. I can imagine him walking over to the piece of ground shown in the photo and saying, “That’s where we decided to build the next building; it started right there.”
Since arriving as president almost four years ago, I’ve been fortunate to be able to carry on with the work of campus transformation that began with Professor Mayo’s vision in 1889. That work accelerated after we joined The Texas A&M University System in 1996. Since then, our campus has evolved from one that was criss-crossed by city streets and lined by a few grand but technologically challenged old buildings, to one that is best described as a dazzling admixture of the old and new. Our heritage is still very much in evidence in such buildings as the stately Ferguson Social Sciences Building and Hall of Languages, but these are now complemented by such incredibly advanced and sophisticated facilities as the new Music Building, Science Building, and Rayburn Student Center – all tied together by attractive walkways, green spaces, and landscaping.
Buildings by themselves, of course, don’t make a university great. They do, however, symbolize the commitment that generations of faculty, staff, students, and alumni have made to constantly improving an institution that is founded on a vision of excellence and opportunity, and sustained by what Professor Mayo aptly called “ceaseless industry.”
If you haven’t been back on campus in a while, consider this your personal invitation. We hope this issue of PRIDE will not only give you a brief visual tour of what the campus looks like and enough of a glimpse to entice you back, but that it will showcase how our constantly evolving campus truly enriches the lives of our students.
As beautiful as the campus is, the real beauty of our university still lies in the vision of the future that Professor Mayo saw in this plot of ground 123 years ago. I suspect he’d be deeply humbled, as am I, by your loyalty and support. Your contributions have not just helped build buildings – they’ve touched lives. Professor Mayo’s dream, and our mission, is nothing less than to change the world through education. We’re doing it one student at a time.
Dr. Dan R. Jones