Also In This Issue


Editor’s Note

After publishing the Time Capsule article about presidential visits to Aggieland in the summer 2020 issue of Spirit, former students notified us that Ronald Reagan also visited campus in November 1978 prior to becoming president. During his visit, he participated in a Memorial Student Center Political Forum that took place in Rudder Auditorium, where he gave a speech focused on prominent political issues followed by a Q&A session. Several readers shared their recollections of this historic event with us.

President Ronald Reagan speaks in Rudder Auditorium in 1978.

“They Didn’t Hiss Me!”

I very much enjoy reading Spirit. In our mostly digital world, there is something comforting about turning the glossy pages of a real magazine.

I read with interest the summer issue’s article about U.S. presidents who have visited campus. Along with other earlier presidents, the visits of Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama were noted. However, Ronald Reagan was missing!

I served as program chairman for Ronald Reagan’s only visit to Aggieland. His Nov. 15, 1978, visit was hosted by MSC Political Forum, the MSC committee that brought speakers from across the political spectrum to campus to educate students on the issues of the day. Reagan had conceded the Republican nomination to Gerald Ford in 1976 and launched his ultimately successful 1980 campaign shortly after his visit. It was Political Forum’s biggest event in our history. We easily sold out Rudder Auditorium!

More than 40 years later, three memories remain from that visit. My first memory is of David Fisher, Reagan’s advance man—the person who visits before the arrival of an important visitor to make appropriate arrangements. At the time, I didn’t know what an advance man was or what they did, but once I saw Fisher come to campus and help us get prepared, I knew what I wanted to do! Three years later, I became the advance man for Gov. Bill Clements during his run for reelection in 1981-1982.

Second, we used The Texas A&M University System plane to pick up Reagan in Dallas and bring him to College Station. I was a 19-year-old sophomore in a private plane with the next president! I thought that was very cool.

Last, and my fondest memory, was our chat just before and after we went on stage. Reagan was backstage in a chair reviewing his legendary 3x5 notecards. Before my introduction and his entrance on stage, I gave him a rundown of Aggie traditions and ended with a heads-up on what a “whoop” and a “hiss” meant. I told him “whoops” were good, but he might hear a loud hiss if he said something on the wrong side of where the students stood, since Aggies don’t boo. As you might imagine, Reagan just killed it, and as we left the stage to the sounds of cheers and whoops, he leaned over to me, cocked his head, gave me that Reagan smile and said, “Sam, they didn’t hiss me!”

Sam Gillespie ’81
Dallas, Texas

President Reagan’s Visit

As always, I thoroughly enjoyed the latest issue of Spirit. However, the Time Capsule article, “Welcome, Mr. President,” neglected to include Ronald Reagan’s 1978 visit to campus, where he spoke to students in Rudder Auditorium.

As a Christmas present for my mother-in-law that year, I planned to give her a mock diploma signed by Reagan and William Frank Buckley Jr., a conservative author and founder of the National Review, who was scheduled to speak on campus a few weeks after Reagan.

Following Reagan’s speech, I spoke briefly with him and asked that he sign the mock diploma on the line that said “President.” I found him to be warm and engaging. After he was informed of my plan and Buckley’s subsequent visit, he quipped, “Please tell Bill he has permission to sign underneath my name!”

Several weeks later, I obtained Buckley’s signature as well. He signed on the line where it said “Dean of the College” under Reagan’s signature, and my mother-in-law enjoyed the gift. Keep up the great work!

Dr. Robert Schindler ’78 ’85
Houston, Texas
Gen. Dwight Eisenhower at the 1950 inauguration of Marion Thomas Harrington '22 '27 as president of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas.

A Memorable Inauguration

After reading the summer issue’s Time Capsule article, I was reminded of a second visit to campus by Dwight Eisenhower that followed his 1946 Muster address but occurred before his terms as president. In 1950, Marion Thomas Harrington ’22 ’27 was inaugurated as president of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, and Gen. “Ike” attended his inauguration ceremony with the Corps of Cadets, who assembled in the north end zone of Kyle Field to hear the address. I was a sophomore at the time, and the event has stuck in my memory! Following the ceremony, he signed autographs for several students.

Richard Rains Jr. ’53
Austin, Texas

More Comments from Spirit Readers

Aggie Park Aesthetics

Love the water features and the landscaping renderings for Aggie Park!

Robert Leedy ’98
Murphy, Texas

Bring on College GameDay

Aggie Park looks awesome! I can’t wait to see ESPN College GameDay broadcasting from this park with cameras panning over the area showing our beautiful campus to the world.

Scott Monk ’05
Phoenix, Arizona

Terry proud of Samantha

We are #terryproud of Samantha Hernandez ’20 and can’t wait to see how she impacts health care!

Yvonne Moody ’91
President & Executive Director, The Terry Foundation
Bellaire, Texas  

Mr. Marburger's Wonderful Impact

I am so thankful to be one of the 200 Aggies supported by Mr. Marburger’s scholarships this year! Aggies always take care of Aggies, and Mr. Marburger exemplifies the core value of selfless service.

Helena MacCrossan ’23
New Braunfels, Texas

Aggies Take On Hollywood

I think it’s awesome that so many Aggie visualization graduates work in Hollywood, as it shows once again that Texas A&M makes amazing contributions to almost every industry across the U.S.!

Dave Marsh
Bryan, Texas

If you'd like to submit a letter to the editor, please email


Dunae Reader '15

Assistant Director of Marketing & Communications/Spirit Editor/Maroon Co-Editor