The Board of Regents at Texas A&M plan to rename some of campus’s landmark buildings, including the Memorial Student Center, Rudder Tower and Theater Complex, and Academic Building, a decision many are describing as another example of the growing divide between current and former students and the administration.
The move is part of Texas A&M’s effort to raise $4 Billion as part of the “Lead by Example” campaign. Launched in November 2015, the initiative aims to increase the funding for to research across the University System. Over the next five years, naming rights will be given to donors who offer the largest contributions to the Texas A&M Endowment, currently valued at close to $11 billion.
The decision comes less than two years after a similar uproar caused the Board of Regents to backtrack on plans to rename the iconic Academic Building the “Rick Perry ‘72 Academic Building” after Texas Governor Rick Perry, a former student, cadet, and Yell Leader.
“General Rudder is an American hero! He led the Rangers during the crucial D-Day invasion of Pointe-du-Hoc and went on to be President of A&M during a major turning point for this school. Now It seems we don’t recognize people who do things, but donate things,” said Amanda Winston, a junior Political Science major.
Texas A&M maintains that the naming policy is in line with the university’s values and has been successful in the past. Susan Hartford of the Texas A&M Foundation told The Mugdown, “Take the new Music Activities Center, for example. Donors come to us and say, ‘We want our name to be put on the band hall or drill field, but we don’t want to have to lead and direct the band for decades.’ All it takes is a few million and we can make it happen for them.”
Some students aren’t bothered by the news. “I love A&M, so someday I hope to have a building named after me,” said Chris Stevenson, a sophomore Finance major. “If I won the Medal of Honor I would only get a tree at a secluded park or be the namesake of a dorm. Exemplifying the Aggie Values after graduation wouldn’t get me any real recognition. Instead, I need to do something that matters like make a lot of money, so I can buy a building!”
When asked about negative reactions from current and former students, Elaine Mendoza, Vice Chairman of the Board of Regents responded, “I don’t see why people are suddenly upset. Thanking our donors for their leadership is not a new concept at Texas A&M or other SEC schools. Edwin J. Kyle heroically donated the first bleachers to the athletic association. I don’t see anyone upset about naming Kyle Field for his demonstrated leadership.”
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—North by Northgate