Campus Life

Texas A&M University’s Former Student Affairs Leaders Gather In Aggieland

September 6, 2017

VPSA Panel
Former Division of Student Affairs leaders took questions from DSA staff during the panel discussion.
By Sondra White, Texas A&M Division of Student Affairs

Seven former vice presidents for student affairs gathered in Aggieland today for a lively panel discussion organized for Division of Student Affairs staff. Only one was missing from the lineup: Dr. John J. Koldus III, Texas A&M’s first and longest-serving vice president for student affairs (1973 to 1993), who was unable to attend the event.

Current Vice President for Student Affairs Daniel J. Pugh Sr. moderated the group in a presentation titled “A Legacy of Student Centeredness,” during which the former leaders shared stories and answered questions submitted by DSA employees.

The panel of TAMU vice presidents for student affairs (VPSA) included:

  • Dr. Daniel J. Pugh Sr. (moderator), TAMU VPSA (2015-Present)
  • Mr. Tom Reber, TAMU Associate VPSA (2004-2014 and 2015-Present), Interim TAMU VPSA (2014-2015)
  • Lt. Gen. Joseph Weber, TAMU VPSA (2008-2014)
  • Dr. David Parrott, Vice President for Student Affairs, University of Florida, Interim TAMU VPSA (2008)
  • Dr. Dean Bresciani, President, North Dakota State University, TAMU VPSA (2004-2008)
  • Dr. Bill Kibler, President, Sul Ross State University, Interim TAMU VPSA (2003)
  • Dr. J. Malon Southerland, TAMU VPSA (1993-2003)
  • Dr. John J. Koldus III (not present), TAMU VPSA (1973-1993)
VPSA Panel
Current Vice President for Student Affairs Daniel J. Pugh Sr. moderated the group in a presentation titled “A Legacy of Student Centeredness.”

Panel Highlights:

  • “There’s no greater feeling than knowing that you and your Student Affairs staff may have influenced a significant turnaround in a student’s life after watching them struggle but eventually succeed. I recall Dr. Anne Reber saying many times: ‘Even students who get in trouble at Texas A&M say yes ma’am and no sir.’” – Joseph Weber
  • Dean Bresciani recalled one of his proudest moments as TAMU VPSA when more than 20,000 students, faculty, and staff showed up to say farewell to former TAMU President Robert Gates as he left campus for the last time.
  • Bill Kibler was instrumental in the creation of the modern-day Aggie Code of Honor, and even wrote his dissertation on it.
  • Malon Southerland lived and led through two major tragedies: the 1999 Bonfire collapse and the September 2001 terrorist attacks.
  • “The relationships we build are far more important than the buildings we leave behind.” – Daniel J. Pugh
  • David Parrott reflected on the talent, commitment and compassion of DSA staff, as well as their trust and belief in each other: “You have thoroughbreds here, so you have to let them run. Autonomy within a framework is key.”
  • Bill Kibler gave context to leadership longevity Student Affairs at Texas A&M: Dr. John Koldus served for 20 years and Dr. J. Malon Southerland for 10 years. “Two leaders in 30 years is unheard of at most universities. Such insightful, long-term leadership combined with our strong student-staff partnership is extraordinary.”
  • Daniel J. Pugh expressed the great risk and reward associated with allowing students to lead large organizations and endeavors, such as Fish Camp or The Big Event. “Institutions must be patient enough to grow this process and make it work. There is risk involved, but we learned, changed, and have managed to maintain this unique model.”
  • When asked how they sustain passion for their work:
    • “I keep separate who I am from what I do. I take great pride in what I do, but it’s not who I am. Each day we have multiple opportunities to make career-ending decisions, so we have to keep everything in perspective. My career has been a rare opportunity. It’s a treasure.” – David Parrott
    • “Ensure that your staff has time for their own families and don’t worry about things you can’t control.” – Joseph Weber
    • “We must remember to celebrate our success. Often we dwell too much on the negative. One negative email from one person can sometimes overshadow a great accomplishment.” – Tom Reber
    • “Focus on doing your job well and let others worry about politics.” – Dean Bresciani
    • “Manage by walking around, talking to people, and strengthening relationships.” – J. Malon Southerland
  • “When I came to Texas A&M as a student all you needed was a high school diploma and immunizations. More than 400,000 students came through Texas A&M during my time as VPSA. Many of them still stay in touch. Texas A&M is my family and I’m so proud of it.” – J. Malon Southerland
  • “The value and impact of tradition and culture at Texas A&M defies its size.” – Dean Bresciani

Texas A&M University Division of Student Affairs

The Division of Student Affairs supports Texas A&M University by providing exceptional services, facilities and programs that promote student success, embody the Aggie spirit, and foster a diverse and inclusive campus community to deepen the understanding and individual application of the Aggie Core Values – excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect, and selfless service.


Media contact: Sondra White ’87, Division of Student Affairs, 979-458-3296 or

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