January 15, 2021

Donor contributions had a positive impact on Texas A&M University in 2020, leading to many defining moments in Aggieland and beyond. Here are some of the best moments of last year, summarized in photos.


Photo by Josh Huskin

Bill Merka, the university’s go-to glassblower for more than 35 years, works on creating one-of-a-kind glassware products for professors and researchers across disciplines using only heat, air and glass like Pyrex and quartz. Watch a video about Bill’s work.

Photo by Leighton Jack

Aggie ACHIEVE (Academic Courses in Higher Inclusive Education and Vocational Experiences), is an immersive four-year educational program for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The program is made possible through private support through the Texas A&M Foundation and, today, there are two classes of Aggies in the ACHIEVE program. Read about Aggie ACHIEVE.

Photo by Josh Huskin

Located off of Highway 6 in Reagan, Texas, the Aggie Barn has served as a gateway to Aggieland since its first maroon and white makeover in 1980. Discover the barn’s history.

Photo by Tim Douglass

Scholarship recipient William “Rhett” Butler ’21 returned to school nearly 24 years after earning his degrees to become an oncologist as a way to honor his late brother’s battle with cancer. Outside of medicine, Butler is an avid musician and family man. More on Rhett’s story.

Photo by Leighton Jack

A collection of 15th and 16th century European city view maps was added to Cushing Memorial Library and Archives in 2020, thanks to a gift-in-kind donation from Jane and Ron Woellhof of Fredericksburg, Texas. Their collection includes 108 maps dating from as early as 1493. Check out the Woellhof Map Collection.

Photo courtesy of Texas A&M Division of Student Affairs

Launched in 2020, Texas A&M’s Supervised Independent Living Program (SIL) provides resources and support to Aggies exiting the foster care system who do not have traditional family support systems. Piloting the program is Mikayla Slaydon ’22, a junior child professional services major. Learn about SIL and Mikayla’s journey.

Photo by Josh Huskin

Cherilyn Haley is the owner of Sonny, the famous War Hymn-whistling cockatiel. Together they are carrying on the Aggie Spirit that Bill Haley ’51, her late husband, embraced throughout his life. Read about the Haleys’ support for the Corps of Cadets and watch Sonny sing the War Hymn.

Image by Zach Randall

This colorful and captivating CT scan of a seahorse is part of a multimillion-dollar National Science Foundation project. Texas A&M University is one of 16 institutions nationally participating in the effort, known as “Open Vertebrate Exploration in 3D,” or oVert. The project seeks to scan 20,000 preserved specimens from U.S. museum collections, producing high-resolution anatomical data that can be used for biodiversity research and aid in the discovery and conservation of species. More on this unique partnership.

Photo by Leighton Jack

Benjamin Barkai ’22, a music lover and materials science and engineering major, is the proud recipient of a President’s Endowed Scholarship. Meet Benjamin.

Photo by Tim Douglass

With the help of outstanding faculty and key donors, Dr. G. Cliff Lamb, department head of animal science at Texas A&M University, is leading the transformation of the beef cattle industry to better meet global needs. How Texas A&M is beefing it up.

Photo by Leighton Jack

Texas A&M has advanced grape-growing knowledge through its viticulture and enology programs. Today, Aggies everywhere are continuing to build a presence and reputation in the wine industry. Check out some Aggie-owned wineries.

Photo courtesy of Ashley '09 and Michael Cordray '06

Ashley ’09 and Michael Cordray ’06, stars of the DIY Network series “Restoring Galveston,” tell their city’s story as they renovate one run-down house at a time. The former Texas A&M Galveston students are working on their second season of the show. About the Cordrays.

Photo courtesy of Col. Lee James '36

Col. Lee James ’36 is the oldest living Aggie at 106 years old. In honor of the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII in September 2020, he joined seven other Aggies in sharing their recollections of service during the war. Read their memories.

Photo by Case Rhome

Recognizing a need for young learners to gain confidence in reading and literacy, Drs. Betsy ’72 and Robert “Bob” Carpenter ’70 made a promise to foster child literacy through a planned gift to the College of Education and Human Development. Read all about it!

Photo by Josh Huskin

Every year, the Texas A&M Foundation’s Board of Trustees awards the Sterling C. Evans Medal to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to Texas A&M University. The 2020 honoree was Allan Marburger ’60, a Central Texas cattle rancher who supports hundreds of Aggies annually with scholarships. More on Allan’s legacy.

Rendering by OJB Landscape Architects

A first look at the new Aggie Park project was released following a groundbreaking ceremony in February 2020. A new premier green space, Aggie Park will be located in the heart of Texas A&M University’s campus near Kyle Field and the John J. Koldus Building. View renderings.

Photo by Cooper Neill

As part of a unique tradition at the Texas A&M School of Law, each incoming class signs a 12th Man jersey to signify each student’s commitment to the Aggie core value of selfless service. The jersey is auctioned off during the class’ final year. The 2020 successful bidder was Megan Pharis ’99. More on the tradition.

Photo by Josh Huskin

Say “Howdy” to Luke Benignus ’22! A sophomore construction science major, Benignus is an avid coin collector and the recipient of the Allan A. Marburger Endowed Opportunity Award. Read Luke’s story.

Photo by Tim Douglass

Ray Rothrock ’77, a tech industry titan, uses his experience to advocate for nationwide cybersecurity initiatives and nuclear solutions to the planet’s energy crisis. How Ray is an Aggie trailblazer.

Photo by Will Walker

Lieutenant Turney W. Leonard ’42 reported for active duty in May 1942. A Dallas native, he was killed during World War II while fighting in Germany. His Aggie ring was found by a German, who held on to it until 2000, when it was finally returned to Aggieland. Discover the journey of Leonard’s ring.