Tyson Voelkel '96, president of the Texas A&M Foundation
As I write this letter, I am reminded of a lifelong lesson I learned as a freshman in the Corps of Cadets. The lesson was simple: No matter how prepared my fish buddies and I thought we were for each morning’s formation and inspection, we were never really in control of the situation presented by our upperclassmen. We were, however, in control of how we responded. That lesson has served me well over the years in situations ranging from combat to the loss of family and friends to leading organizations.
Given the situation our nation faces as a result of COVID-19, I’m having to remind myself of that lesson more than ever. This crisis has and will continue to be a situation that leaves many of us wanting more control. Crisis scenarios bring out the best and worst in people, organizations and governments, but they also create opportunities for those same entities to evolve in meaningful ways. Texas A&M University faculty and practitioners are doing their part to respond to the pandemic by helping educate the public about COVID-19 and engaging in research to combat the virus itself.
At the Texas A&M Foundation, our mission remains focused on building a brighter future for the university. During this time, we’ve focused heavily on the relationships we hold with our donors and academic partners, because a sense of community, adherence to the Aggie core values and a network of support are more important than ever during times like these. To that end, we have also created the
for students, faculty and staff financially impacted by the pandemic. Because the short and long-term financial ramifications of COVID-19 are still unknown, our team has also worked overtime to ensure that our endowment is performing at its best and that we are properly diversified and rebalancing when necessary. Texas A&M University Disaster Relief Fund
For as long as I have been a member of the Aggie community, I have maintained that Texas A&M’s greatest strength and defining feature is its people. It goes without saying that the rapid and benevolent response from our students, faculty and staff to this unprecedented emergency has been emblematic of everything for which this great university stands. If we have learned one thing, it is that we exhibit unrivaled strength when we act as a community. We will need that continued strength as we work together with our friends, colleagues and families to regain our footing again. But first, we need to remember what exactly we are working toward.
The stories featured in this issue of Spirit were prepared before the first cases of COVID-19 appeared in the United States. After the situation escalated and major social distancing measures were implemented, the Spirit editors and I briefly considered whether it was appropriate to publish this magazine as is. However, we quickly realized that the stories we had prepared—stories of leadership, generosity and Aggies making a difference in others’ lives—are stories we could all probably use right now. This pandemic has forced us to go without many of the things we take for granted. In the face of uncertainty, let us remember the good we still have, and all that is still waiting for us on the other side. Let us also never forget that in times of crisis, we may not control the situation, but we do have control over how we choose to respond. At the Texas A&M Foundation, like many of you, we choose to lead by example.
We join with you in prayer and in faith that this crisis will leave our communities and our Aggie values even stronger and more resilient. We hope our paths cross again soon after the pandemic. Until then, we will continue to pray for your good health, blessings and prosperity.
Thanks for all you do.