When Dr. Charles “Chuck” Hermann accepted a position as the founding director for Texas A&M University’s Bush School of Government and Public Service in 1995, he soon realized his job was anything but ordinary. “When I landed in Houston, the dean of the College of Liberal Arts met me to drive me to College Station,” he said. “But before taking me to campus, he took a detour to President George H.W. Bush’s office. I knew then that this was not your usual kind of job!”
That marked Hermann’s first of many encounters with President Bush. In its early years, Hermann worked closely with the former president to build the Bush School, finally celebrating its opening in 1997 with an inaugural class of 18 students. When Dr. Robert Gates became the school’s first dean, Hermann served as associate dean for academic programs, during which time he established the Bush School’s Master of International Affairs program.
While preparing Bush School students for a life of public service, Hermann also taught courses on foreign policy and national security, drawing from his time as a member of the National Security Council under former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and his years spent teaching political science and directing a national security research center at The Ohio State University. Dr. Eden, a tenured faculty member in the Management Department at Texas A&M, taught courses on multinational enterprises and transfer pricing to Mays Business School and Bush School students.
Along with President Bush and other faculty and administrators, the couple helped establish the Bush School as one of the nation’s top institutions for public and international affairs. “President Bush was adamant about making the Bush School stand out,” Hermann said, “and the School’s rise to success is closely linked to his influence. You never knew when he would pop into class or stop by with a fellow world leader for a guest lecture. He loved the Bush School and really tried to carve out time for its students.”
The End of an Era
After 24 years of service at Texas A&M, Hermann and Eden decided to retire from teaching this year. “With both President George H.W. Bush and Mrs. Barbara Bush passing in 2018, we felt that it was the closing of a chapter for us at the Bush School,” Eden said. “We knew that it was time for us to step away, but we wanted to do something to honor them, our time at the school, and the exceptional students we’ve encountered along the way. So, we decided to create a fellowship to continue supporting future generations of public servants.”
The couple hopes their endowed gift, which is designated for second-year graduate students in the International Affairs degree program at the Bush School, allows recipients to engage in professional growth and development. "We want students to participate in language immersion programs and seek internships that will prepare them for public service rather than worry about funding their education," Hermann said. “We want them to spend their summers learning Mandarin or Russian or serving in the nonprofit sector without it setting them back financially. One of the critical problems we want to address is helping students avoid large student loan debts. This was a repeated concern of President Bush as well.”
Throughout the couple’s time at the Bush School, they have seen students surpass expectations and excel as leaders in national intelligence communities, nonprofit agencies and the armed forces. "By awarding second-year students, we want to acknowledge those who come into the school and perform exceptionally well," Eden said. "We wanted our fellowship to be for students who didn't receive major financial assistance when they were admitted yet demonstrated excellence during their first year in pursuit of their degree. The first recipient should be awarded in May 2020, and that would mark our 25th year at Texas A&M. We couldn't think of a better anniversary gift!"
A New Beginning
Since coming to Texas A&M, Hermann and Eden have been acknowledged for their dedication and service to education across the globe. Each has served as president of their respective professional society. In fact, Eden recently received the Medal of the City of Rennes, France, to honor the impact her research has had on both local and international levels.
Though the couple didn’t necessarily expect to make their home at Texas A&M, they found themselves falling in love with the university along with President and Mrs. Bush. “We’ve both been so impressed by the spirit of giving they embodied,” Eden said. “It’s clear that there is a large group of people who became dedicated to the Bushes simply for the way they treated others. I don’t think either of us fully understood what an opportunity we were given in being able to interact with them on a regular basis. Now, we hope to follow their example in making a difference where we can help.”
With the closing of a chapter, Hermann and Eden see an abundance of opportunities that await future generations at the Bush School. “The Bush School equips students to make a difference while upholding the Aggie Code of Honor and the noble calling of public service,” Eden said. “We would love to see future graduates in Congress, as head of the U.S. Treasury or Department of State and serving in positions all over the world. And who knows? Maybe we’ll see a Bush School alumnus as president of the United States one day.”
To learn how you can support future generations of public servants at the Bush School of Government and Public Service, contact Michael Bottiglieri ’89 at firstname.lastname@example.org or (979) 458-8035.