October 24, 2022

Since its beginnings, Texas A&M University’s Corps of Cadets has transformed wet-behind-the-ears students into well-rounded adults who have a heart for service. World War II proved the Corps’ role in producing servant leaders with over 20,000 Aggies serving, more than 950 of whom paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

More than 145 years later, the Corps is optional and a majority of cadets do not commission into the military. However, there is still one key component to a cadet’s time in the Corps: learning to lead through service to others.

Understanding the impact cadets have after they leave Aggieland, Texas A&M President Dr. M Katherine Banks has made the Corps of Cadets a priority with the “March to 3,000” campaign to grow the Corps to 3,000 members by 2030. “We have a duty and obligation to our state and nation to continue developing leaders of character, and I am in full support of expanding the opportunities the Corps provides our students,” Banks said.

We believe that to effectively and ethically lead others, you have to first know and lead yourself.
Col. Kenneth Allison '85

More cadets means more opportunities to educate young minds on leadership and character, and there’s no place better prepared to do so than the Corps of Cadets’ Hollingsworth Center for Ethical Leadership (HCEL).

Beginning as the Leadership Excellence Program in the early 2000s, the HCEL was named for Lt. Gen. James F. Hollingsworth ’40 in 2012 after a generous estate gift from Hollingsworth and his wife, Janie. In 2017, under the new leadership of Dr. David Keller ’07, the program’s name was updated to include a word that differentiates Texas A&M’s leadership program from those across the country: ethical.

Hollingsworth, the epitome of an ethical leader in both the military and business worlds, is known as the most decorated general in Texas A&M’s history. He participated in seven major World War II campaigns and was wounded five times. He served in combat in both the Korean and Vietnam conflicts and was liaison to the Army Chief of Staff in Washington, D.C. After retiring from the Army, he became a leading aerospace tactical technology consultant for the next 21 years. Named a Distinguished Alumnus in 1980 and a Corps of Cadets’ Hall of Honor inductee in 1994, Hollingsworth selflessly served Texas A&M as an advisor to the university’s leadership.

As cadets grow in the HCEL, Keller knows he must purposefully grow the program for their continued success. Increasing staff and implementing an official mentoring program are two of the many ways he plans to keep the HCEL at the top of its game. “The Hollingsworth Center is critical to the Corps’ growth plan,” he shared. “As we expand, most growth will likely come from students seeking world-class leadership development to prepare for careers and service outside of the military.”

Allison looks forward to expanding the center’s mentoring opportunities. “Having a diverse group of cadets with a wide range of career interests, it is a tremendous task to identify mentors, vet them and match them with students,” he explained. “We’d like to offer a structured program that includes assessments of how well the program is working.”

Inspired by gratitude, Perryman and his wife, Karen, planned a gift in their estate that will benefit the HCEL. Using a charitable remainder trust, they are leveraging their tax-deferred assets to leave a stream of payments for their children and grandchildren. However, the opportunity to create future servant leaders is what they are most excited about.

“I’m confident that our gift will truly benefit students,” Perryman said, “and I’m hopeful that the skills cadets learn will help develop the leaders needed to serve our local communities, Texas and the United States.”

Leaders in Action

Learn how former cadets Gabby Clark McCoy ’12 (A-Battery in Corps of Cadets; Chief of Staff, Racial Equity Shared Value Networks, Walmart) and W Lander ’17 (C-Battery in Corps of Cadets; Assistant Manager of Compliance for Gerson Lehrman Group) are applying their Corps leadership training to selflessly lead others in the professional realm.


My most valuable leadership takeaway was…

(Gabby Clark McCoy - GCM) Learning to lead from a position of authenticity. People can adopt many leadership styles, but the standard begins with each individual embracing the authentic version of themselves.

(W Lander - WL) Realizing that you can and should learn from less-experienced peers and the people you manage. Everyone has unique strengths that may differ from your own. Just because you’ve done something longer does not mean you know everything or should stop learning.

Real leaders serve others by…

(GCM) Understanding that “it” (whatever it represents) is not about them. Servant leaders are intentional about listening to others and creating an environment for growth, development and belonging.

(WL) Acting selflessly in the interest of those they lead. A real leader cannot pretend to have all the answers. To serve those they lead, leaders should listen. Before responding, they should think. And when responding, they should show compassion and empathy.

Today, I use the leadership skills I learned in the Corps to…

(GCM) Drive initiatives that advance fairness, equity and justice within our business and society. With that in mind, there is an expectation to communicate effectively, lead with compassion and meet individuals where they are.

(WL) Adapt to a variety of situations with both internal colleagues and clients from around the world. The lessons learned in and out of the classroom as part of the Hollingsworth program prepared me to respond to many types of situations with a calm and confident demeanor.

Interested in planning a gift to help the Corps continue building ethical leaders like Gabby and W? Contact Kelly Corcoran '95 below!