Picking Up the Baton

The late Dr. Dan R. Jones left behind an enduring legacy of innovative thinking and clear vision, as well as insight into what the university had become and what it could be. Dr. Ray Keck III, tapped by The Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp to serve as interim president, has vowed to extend the reach of Dr. Jones’ vision for Texas A&M University-Commerce, and has already taken up the baton.

Dr. Keck came to know Dr. Jones and A&M-Commerce further back than one might expect. In 2003, they met at Texas A&M International University in Laredo. In the spring of that year, Dr. Jones came to interview for provost while Dr. Keck was president. Dr. Keck himself arrived at A&M International as an associate professor of Spanish, later became chair of the Department of Language, Literature & Arts, and then served in Dr. Jones’ former capacity as provost before becoming A&M International’s president.

Back then, Dr. Keck was familiar with Commerce because he and his wife, Patricia, were also good friends with the McFarlands: Dr. Keith McFarland and his wife, Nancy, then president and first lady of campus, respectively. Dr. Keck knew Commerce to be an exciting place because of its innovative programs and creative ways of approaching old problems.

“While Dr. McFarland began the initiatives leading to the beautiful setting we enjoy today, Dr. Jones led in establishing new and innovative programs,” Dr. Keck said. “In fact, I urged Dr. Jones to come to Commerce.”

From viewing and admiring A&M-Commerce and its success from afar, to now being set to lead the university, Dr. Keck has come full circle.

The Kecks intend to reside on campus in Heritage House, positioning themselves at the heart of campus.

“To live in this magnificent home—beautifully restored, right in the middle of campus—will bring us into direct daily contact with the residential community,” Dr. Keck said. “Because it is located adjacent to the Alumni Center and garden, the house naturally becomes a venue for enhanced outreach to parents and returning alumni. We are especially excited to think of all these sorts of events surrounding our five home football games this fall.”

The faculty, staff and students of A&M-Commerce extend a warm Lion roar to the Kecks and look forward to President Keck’s leadership. While it’s true that his degree may be from parts north, his roots are in Texas.