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Biographies

Marquis Alexander

Marquis Alexander ‘13

Alexander is the oldest of 10 children and the first in his family to attend college. A member of the Army Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps in high school, Alexander’s goal was to attend Texas A&M, join the Corps and graduate as a commissioned officer. However, when his acceptance letter didn’t arrive in time, he signed up with the Marine Corps. After serving for a year and a half on active duty, he re-applied to Texas A&M and was immediately accepted. That began his leadership journey with Company H-1 which led to him being selected as Corps Commander — the first African-American and the first veteran to serve in that position.

 

Dr. Sarah Alpern

Dr. Sara Alpern

Alpern is an expert in U. S. women's history, specializing in the history of women in business. She received her Ph. D. in U. S. History from the University of Maryland, College Park. She also holds degrees in history from the University of California at Los Angeles and from Western Reserve University.
In 1978, Alpern introduced the first course in women's history at Texas A&M University, where she helped developed a complete program in women's studies. She continues to teach several courses in women's history to both undergraduate and graduate students at Texas A&M. She also teaches general United States history courses in both regular history classes and classes for honors students.

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Dr. M. Katherine Banks

Dr. M. Katherine Banks

Dr. Banks is the first woman to become Vice Chancellor for Engineering for The Texas A&M University System and Dean of the College of Engineering. She holds the Harold J. “Bill” Haynes Dean’s Chair in Engineering and is director of the Texas Engineering Experiment Station. Banks was previously the Bowen Engineering Head for the School of Civil Engineering at Purdue University. She received her B.S.E. from the University of Florida, M.S.E. from the University of North Carolina, and Ph.D. from Duke University.

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Robert T. Bisor III

Robert T. Bisor III '86

Bisor was the first African-American President of the Memorial Student Center as an undergraduate and has continued to serve Texas A&M in many capacities. Currently, he serves as Assistant Vice President for Administration and Assistant Vice President for Business Affairs. Prior to this appointment, he served as Special Assistant to the Vice President for Finance and Administration and Interim Director of Human Resources, and then as Assistant to the President.

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Judge Willie E.B. Blackmon

Judge Willie E.B. Blackmon '73

Judge Willie E.B. Blackmon was personally recruited by then-university president Gen. James Earl Rudder to receive one of the first athletic scholarships in the history of Texas A&M. He was a member of the 1970 Southwest Conference (SWC) Championship Track and Field Team, a three-time All SWC athlete and an All-American in the 880 yard dash. Blackmon received his J.D. from Thurgood Marshall School of Law in 1982 and entered the U.S. Air Force in 1984 where he served as a military attorney. Judge Blackmon retired from the Houston Municipal Courts in 2004 and the U.S. Armed Forces in 2009. In 1994, he was inducted into the Texas A&M Athletic Hall of Fame and was named a Texas A&M Distinguished Alumnus in 2005.

Biographical note, Houston Public Library

Dr. Al Broussard

Dr. Albert S. Broussard

In 1985, Broussard was the first African-American history faculty member and one of only a handful of African-American faculty at Texas A&M. He received the Elton P. Lewis Faculty Fellowship in 1996 and the Association of Former Students Distinguished Teaching Award in 1997. He served on the Faculty Senate, the Texas A&M Honorary Degree committee, the University Publications Committee, the Texas A&M Press advisory board, and was associate department head of the history department for seven years. He got his B.A. from Stanford and his master’s and Ph.D. from Duke.

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Kevin Carreathers

Kevin Carreathers

Carreathers was the first Department Head for the Department of Multicultural Services. During his service, the university maintained the highest freshman retention rate for minority students for 10 consecutive years. He is a founder of the Southwestern Black Student Leadership Conference, co-founder of the Diversity Education Institute and founder of the Multicultural Affairs Institute. He served as a strategist to assist Texas A&M and other Texas universities to find alternative solutions to maintain minority recruitment and retention programs. Carreathers was the first African-American to receive the Association of Former Students Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award in Individual Student Relationships and the initial recipient of the John J. Koldus Faculty/ Staff Achievement Award.

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Phyllis Frye

Phyllis Frye '70

Frye is an Associate Judge for the City of Houston, the first transgender judge appointed in Texas. She was born Philip Frye, was a member of the Corps of Cadets and graduated with degrees in engineering from Texas A&M in 1970 and 1971. In 1976, Frye transitioned her gender, became an attorney and soon became nationally known for her activism on GLBT issues. She was a pioneer in the national movement for transgender legal and political action. In 1995, Ms. Frye received the "Creator of Change" Award from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. In 1999, she received the Virginia Prince Lifetime Contribution Award from the International Foundation for Gender Education. In 2009, Texas A&M named their Diversity Award the Phyllis Frye Advocacy Award.

 

Vergel L. Gay

Vergel L. Gay, Jr. ’73

Gay is the first African-American graduate of Texas A&M to become a licensed architect, after receiving his bachelor’s in Environmental Design in 1973 and master’s in Architecture in 1974. Most recently, he served as chief facilities planning and construction officer for The Texas A&M University System for around five years, leading the planning, design and construction of projects valued at approximately $3 billion. A member of the American Institute of Architects, Gay serves on the institutes's national Public Architects Knowledge Group. In addition to being a member of the Texas Society of Architects, he served as Chair of the Integrated Project Delivery and Building Information Modeling (IPD/BIM) Task Force. Gay is currently a CRS Center Professional Fellow at the Texas A&M College of Architecture as well as the CEO of Vergel Gay & Associates.

LaShanta Green

LaShanta Green '09

Green was born and raised in Bryan/College Station and always wanted to be an Aggie. After graduating with a marketing degree from the Mays Business School in 2009, she worked for the Department of Industrial Distribution. Green loves interacting with students and served as Academic Advisor at Blinn College for two years. Coming full circle, Green was hired by the Division of Marketing & Communications at Texas A&M in 2012 to add her expertise to the marketing team. She is the project manager for the “50 Years of Inclusion” creative team.

Dr. Cynthia L. Hernandez

Dr. Cynthia L. Hernandez '94

Hernandez was one of a select number of Hispanic women to earn all three degrees from Texas A&M, getting her bachelor's in '94, master's in '96 and Ph.D in 2010. She is currently Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs. With more than 17 years of experience, she has received The Association of Former Students and Division of Student Affairs Professional Staff Award and was selected as the 2012 Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education Alumni Award.  Hernandez is a member of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators and the Association of Student Conduct Administrators, and is President of the National Orientation Directors Association (NODA).

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Daniel Hernandez

Daniel Hernandez '73

Hernandez was the co-founder of The Committee on the Awareness of the Mexican American Culture (CAMAC) - the first Hispanic student organization on campus with the mission of bringing Texas A&M into a more global arena through its Hispanic student leaders. He was a founding member of: Professional Hispanic Network (PHN); Mexican American Latino Faculty Association (MALFA); Mexican American Latino Research Center (MALRC) and the Texas A&M Hispanic Network (TAMHN). Hernandez served as the first Hispanic Assistant Director of Admissions; Affirmative Action Officer; Assistant General Counsel and Associate Vice Chancellor for Community Development for the Texas A&M University System. A graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, Hernandez is Partner in the Hernandez Law Firm.

Will Hurd

Will Hurd '99

Will Hurd is a native of San Antonio and graduated with a B.S. in Computer Science from Texas A&M. Very involved as a student leader, Hurd was the President of the Memorial Student Center, managing over 2,000 student volunteers. Following that, he was elected Student Body President, representing the University’s 45,000 students. After graduation, Hurd moved to Washington, D.C. to serve his country in a nearly decade-long career with the Central Intelligence Agency. He has recently returned from overseas and is a Republican candidate for U.S. Congress in the 23rd Congressional District of Texas.

Reid Joseph

Reid Joseph '14

A member of the Corps of Cadets and a third-generation Aggie, Joseph has been involved in the Student Government Association (SGA) since his freshman year. Also, he has served on the Texas A&M Traditions Council and the Muster Committee, which plans the university's annual April 21 remembrance of Aggies who died during the past year. Additionally, he was selected as a member in the Corps of Cadets' prestigious Ross Volunteer Company and he serves as academic chair for Squadron 17. In his freshman year, he was named "Most Outstanding Fish" in the Corps. Also, Joseph was named one of the Texas A&M Foundation’s "Maroon Coats," an honor that involves enhancing the impact of the Texas A&M Foundation by acting as hosts at events and by providing ambassadorship, stewardship and selfless service.

Dr. Alvin Larke Jr.

Dr. Alvin Larke Jr.

Larke is a professor of Agricultural Education and one of the longest tenured faculty members at Texas A&M, having joined the Department of Agricultural Education in 1984. Since then, he has received the prestigious Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching in 1993 and was named an American Council on Education Fellow in 1997. Larke has often spoken out on issues concerning the minority community at Texas A&M. Recognized for his contributions to agricultural education, Professor Larke received the Honorary American Degree at the 2012 National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Faculty recognized with honorary FFA degrees

Dr. Chanam Lee

Dr. Chanam Lee '99

Lee is an Associate Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture & Urban Planning. She received her B.A. from Kyungpook National University in 1996, her M.L.A. from Texas A&M in 1999 and her Ph.D. from the University of Washington in 2004. Currently her research, aided by more than $9 million in funding, is focused on making healthier, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods to make a positive impact on people’s lives.

Dr. Jianrong Li

Dr. Jianrong Li

Li is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Veterinary Integrative Bioscience in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. She received her B.S. in Chemistry, Beijing Normal University 1988, her M.S. in Organic Chemistry, from Beijing Normal University, 1991 and her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from University of Hawaii in 1997. She was an instructor in the Division of Neuroscience at Harvard Medical School from 2000 to 2005 and joined the faculty at Texas A&M in 2006 after having received numerous academic awards, honors and research grants. Along with three fellow researchers, Li is now studying new ways to fight multiple sclerosis, and has recently been published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

R. Bowen Loftin ‘71

R. Bowen Loftin ‘71

Dr. R. Bowen Loftin was named the 24th president of Texas A&M on February 12, 2010 after serving as interim president since June 15, 2009. He has presided over a remarkable period of growth in Aggieland, including greater-than-ever enrollment, record-breaking research dollars secured by faculty, new academic buildings and residence halls and state-of-the-art athletic facilities going up across campus, the acquisition of the Health Science Center and the Texas A&M School of Law and the 100-year decision to become members of the SEC. 

 

Fred McClure

Fred McClure '76

McClure graduated summa cum laude in agricultural economics in 1976. He was a member of the Singing Cadets, the first African-American Student Body President and received the Brown-Rudder Outstanding Student Award. In 1995, he was appointed to a six-year term on Texas A&M's Board of Regents, where he served two years as vice chairman. McClure served as a senior member of the White House staff, advising President Ronald Reagan and President George H. W. Bush on legislative affairs. 


 

Ronnie McDonald

Ronnie McDonald '93

In 1991, McDonald became the first African-American elected junior yell leader in the history of A&M. In 1992, he was elected senior yell leader. McDonald was also a Fish Camp counselor and a member of the MSC Hospitality Committee. At age 27, he was elected to serve as one of the youngest county judges in Texas and the first African-American in the history of Bastrop County. He currently serves as Executive Director of Community Relations and Strategic Partnerships for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.

Rozanna M.Mendoza

Rozanna M. Mendoza '86

Mendoza currently serves in the Department of Planning and Community Development with the City of San Antonio administering HUD grants. She volunteers as a Mediator for the Bexar County Dispute Resolution Center and serves on the Choice Neighborhood Workforce Development Committee for the San Antonio Housing Authority. Her grandparents emigrated to the U.S. in the 1920s during the Mexican revolution. Her grandfather was a community activist and advocate for equal opportunities for women, inspiring Mendoza to pursue her education. She got her B.A. in Cultural Geography in 1986 and M.B.A. in International Business and Leadership in 2003.

Dr. Elsa A. Murano

Dr. Elsa A. Murano

In 2008, Murano became the first woman and first Hispanic-American to be elected President of Texas A&M University. Previously, Murano served as vice chancellor and dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Murano returned to teaching and research as a professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science in June 2009. She joined the Texas A&M faculty in 1995 as an Associate Professor in the Department of Animal Science and was named Associate Director of the Center for Food Safety where she served until 2001. She then became Under Secretary for Food Safety for the U.S. Department of Agriculture under President George W. Bush. Murano received her B.S. in Biological Sciences from Florida International University and her master’s and Ph.D. in Food Science and Technology from Iowa State University.

 

Sunny Nash

Sunny Nash '77

A native of Bryan, Texas, Nash was among the first 10 African-American female graduates of Texas A&M and the first journalism major. She was a program director at KAMU and the first African-American radio news reporter for WTAW. After graduation she worked at Texas A&M for the next nine years in a variety of positions. Nash is now an award-winning author, exhibiting photographer and television producer. Her book, Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth's, was selected by the Association of American University Presses as a resource for understanding U.S. race relations.

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Sunny Nash Press Room

Linda Parrish

Linda Parrish

The Association Of University Centers On Disabilities awarded Parrish the Meritorious Service Award in 2010 for outstanding achievement in teaching, research and service, based on her profound and positive effect upon the disability community as a faculty member at Texas A&M. Parrish also served as the associate dean and assistant department head of the College of Education and Human Development, while continuing to teach classes focused on Inclusion of Students with Disabilities. Since serving as the public policy coordinator for the Center on Disabilities and Development at Texas A&M, Parrish has represented the center as a member of the Disability Policy Consortium. She received an annual grant for 24 years that allowed her to conduct a statewide conference for teachers, administrators, rehabilitation counselors, individuals with disabilities and their families. This annual activity was one of the first of its kind in Texas and created a basis for many advocacy activities to grow.

Brigadier General Joe E. Ramirez

Brigadier General Joe E. Ramirez '79

Ramirez became the first Hispanic Commandant of the Corps of Cadets in November 2010. He graduated in 1979 with a B.S. in physical education, while serving in the Corps and playing in the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band. During his military career, Ramirez received the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal and Humanitarian Service Medal. He was Deputy Chief of Staff for U.S. Central Command during Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. He has a master's in management from Webster University and a master's in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College.

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Brooke Leslie Rollins

Brooke Leslie Rollins '94

Rollins graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture Development. While at Texas A&M, Rollins was the first woman to serve as Student Body President in 1994 and was recognized as the top graduate based on academics, leadership, and service. In 2007, Rollins was invited back to campus as the first woman Aggie Muster speaker. Rollins served as Governor Rick Perry’s Deputy General Counsel, and later as his Policy Director and is currently the President and CEO of the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

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James Rosenheim

James Rosenheim

Rosenheim helped to found the GLBT Professional Network at Texas A&M and the first recipient of the Phyllis Frye Diversity Award in 2009. He received his bachelor’s at Harvard University and his master’s and Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1981. He joined the faculty of Texas A&M in 1982 and as Professor of History he teaches courses on early modern British history and on sex and sexuality in history. He served as director of the Melbern G. Glasscock Center for Humanities Research from 1999 to 2011 and has served on the Diversity Operations Committee since 2010.

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James Earl Rudder ’32

Gen. James Earl Rudder ’32

A visionary leader in both war and peace, Gen. Rudder graduated from Texas A&M (then the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas) in 1932 and was commissioned a lieutenant in the Army Reserves. He taught high school and college and coached football until he was called to active duty in 1941. He led U.S. Army Rangers for one of D-Day's most dangerous operations at Pointe du Hoc in France. In 1959, Gen. Rudder became the president of Texas A&M and served until his death in 1970. During his tenure, the college changed its name to Texas A&M University, doubled in enrollment, expanded its research programs and membership in the Corps of Cadets became voluntary. The most revered leader in the university’s history, many believe it was his courageous decision to admit women and African-Americans, a year before the 1964 Civil Rights Act, that set Texas A&M on the path to greatness.

Dr. Sallie V. Sheppard

Dr. Sallie V. Sheppard '65

Sheppard was among the first women formally admitted to Texas A&M, earning her bachelor's and master's degrees in mathematics in 1965 and 1967, respectively. After earning her doctorate in computer science at the University of Pittsburgh in 1977, she returned to Texas A&M and began a 20-year teaching career in the Department of Computer Science. In addition, she rose in the administrative ranks, serving as associate provost for honors and undergraduate studies (1987-91) and associate provost for undergraduate programs and academic services (1991-98). Sheppard also played a central role in creating the Women's Faculty Network. She received university-level Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Awards in Teaching (1985) and Administration (1998) and was appointed professor emeritus of computer science in 1998.

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Paul K. Stafford

Paul K. Stafford '90

Stafford is the co-founder of the Black Former Student Network and the Southwestern Black Student Leadership Conference. He received his B.S. in political science at Texas A&M, where he won a Distinguished Student Award and the Buck Weirus Spirit Award, and was awarded his J.D. from Texas Tech University School of Law. Currently a partner in a law firm, Stafford also served as an assistant district attorney in Denton County and Dallas County and has been selected for inclusion in Thomson Reuters’ Super Lawyers in Texas for four consecutive years.

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Dr. Christine Stanley

Dr. Christine Stanley '90

Dr. Christine A. Stanley ’90 is the Vice President and Associate Provost for Diversity and Professor of Higher Education Administration in the College of Education and Human Development. She was selected and appointed to this position in July 2009. Prior to this appointment, Stanley served as Executive Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs in the College of Education and Human Development from 2006-2009 and as Associate Dean of Faculties from 2003-2006. Recently, Stanley was named to serve on the advisory commission on inclusion for the American Council on Education (ACE).

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Leroy Sterling

Leroy Sterling

Sterling was among the first three African-American students to attend Texas A&M in 1963. He received a bachelor's degree from Texas Southern University and a master's from the University of Houston. He began a career as an educator in 1964, serving as a French instructor and Foreign Student Advisor at Texas Southern University. He entered the corporate world of Dow Chemical in 1969. Sterling returned to education in 1990 as an Assistant Professor, Director of Honors and director of a national writing project at Alabama A&M University. He has published extensively in the following journals: English in Texas, Iowa Language News, and Alabama English.

 

Dr. Valerie E. Taylor

Dr. Valerie E. Taylor

Dr. Taylor is Regents Professor and the Wisenbaker Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, and an IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) fellow. She is executive director of the Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in IT (CMD-IT). Taylor was the first African-American to be Head of Texas A&M’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering, serving from 2003 to 2011. Taylor earned her B.S. and M.S. from Purdue University and her Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California, Berkeley.

Dr. Karen L. Watson

Dr. Karan L. Watson

Karan L. Watson, Ph.D., P.E., was appointed the first woman provost and executive vice president for academic affairs on March 8, 2011, having served in the interim position since July 28, 2009. She previously served as vice provost from December 2008 to July 2009 and as dean of faculties and associate provost from February 2002 to December 2008. Since joining the faculty of Texas A&M in 1983, Watson has always had a deep commitment to keeping campus diversity at the forefront of her institution. She is a Regents Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Watson earned three degrees in electrical engineering: a bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. all from Texas Tech University.

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Dr. Josie Williams

Dr. Josie Williams '71

Williams is Medical Director of the Texas Health Quality Alliance, specializing in gastroenterology and internal medicine. She received a bachelor’s in Zoology in 1971 and a Doctorate of Medicine from the University of Texas Medical School, San Antonio. She has served in leadership positions within U.S. Air Force medical centers, as Chief of Staff at McCuistion Regional Medical Center and headed medical management for an urban health system in Fort Worth. She has served on the Lamar County Texas A&M Scholarship Foundation Board and the Texas Board of Higher Education Task Force. She is the first woman to be awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2001.

Samuel B. Williams, II

Samuel B. Williams II '68

Williams was one of the first five African-American students to enroll as a freshman in the Corps of Cadets. He was also among the first African-American football lettermen, and was on the 1967 Southwest Conference and 1968 Cotton Bowl Championship teams. While semi-retired, Williams is a development consultant and certified mediator residing in Houston.

Dr. X. Ben Wu

Dr. X. Ben Wu

Wu is Associate Dean of Faculties and Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence. He did his undergraduate study and taught in Lanzhou University in China before he entered the University of Tennessee for his graduate study in 1985. He was a post-doctoral fellow (1992-1995) and Adjunct Assistant Professor (1994-1995) at the Ohio State University before he joined the faculty at Texas A&M University in 1995. After serving as Associate Head for Graduate Programs in Ecosystem Science and Management, he was appointed Associate Dean of Faculties in 2009. After attending The Wakonse Conference on College Teaching and several workshops given by the CTE, Wu dedicated himself to helping fellow teachers (especially new faculty members and those from different cultures) to improve their teaching to provide the best possible learning experience for Texas A&M students.