Campus Life

12 Moments That Defined Texas A&M In 2021

As 2021 comes to a close, take a look back at 12 uniquely Aggie moments that will have a lasting impact.
By Ann Kellett, Texas A&M University Division of Marketing & Communications December 22, 2021

a graphic that reads "2021 aggieland year in review" with four pictures of mascot reveille, a football player celebrating, people pulling a red covering off a bronze statue, and president m. katherine banks

1. Billion-Dollar Research Milestone Surpassed

a woman works with a male student in a research lab
Adela Oliva Chavez, Texas A&M AgriLife Research entomologist (left).

Laura McKenzie/Texas A&M AgriLife Communications


Texas A&M became the first university in the state to surpass the $1 billion mark in total annual research expenditures, reporting $1.131 billion for fiscal year 2020 to the National Science Foundation. This was an increase of $179 million, or 18.8 percent, over 2019’s total of $952 million for research conducted at the flagship campus in College Station, at the branch campuses in Galveston and Qatar, and through its state agencies within The Texas A&M University System.

2. Lead By Example Fundraising Campaign Concludes With A Record $4.25 Billion

campus aerial shot
An aerial view of the Texas A&M University campus in College Station.

Sam Craft/Texas A&M Division of Marketing & Communications


Texas A&M became the first university Texas to reach the $4 billion mark in fundraising as its five-year Lead By Example campaign concluded in February. Donors gave more than 903,600 gifts to the university to support initiatives that benefit students, faculty and staff, including 4,500 new student scholarships and about 500 new faculty chairs and professorships.

3. President George H.W. Bush’s Funeral Train Finds Permanent Home At Texas A&M

Union Pacific Locomotive No. 4141. (Union Pacific)
Union Pacific Locomotive No. 4141.

Courtesy of Union Pacific


In 2005, Union Pacific Railroad surprised Bush by painting one of its locomotives to resemble Air Force One and naming it No. 4141 to honor the 41st president. The No. 4141 Union Pacific Engine returned to College Station in December 2018 when it led the Bush funeral train from Houston to the former president’s final resting place on the grounds of his namesake library and museum at Texas A&M. Union Pacific later donated the locomotive to Texas A&M, and it was delivered for permanent display in March.

4. M. Katherine Banks Takes The Helm As Texas A&M’s 26th President

M. Katherine Banks portrait
Texas A&M President M. Katherine Banks.

Texas A&M Engineering


A national search for the university’s top job resulted in the selection of M. Katherine Banks, who served nine years as vice chancellor of engineering and national laboratories, dean of the College of Engineering at Texas A&M and director of the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station. The longtime national leader helped The Texas A&M University System secure the management contract for Los Alamos National Laboratory, as well as the creation of the George H.W. Bush Combat Development Complex at the RELLIS Campus. She also established Texas A&M’s Intercollegiate School of Engineering Medicine (EnMed) program. She took office as the on June 1.

5. Reveille X Takes Over As Texas A&M Mascot

portrait of mascot candidate reveille x
Mascot candidate Reveille X was donated to the university on Friday by Juelle Collies of Topeka, Kansas during a private handoff ceremony.

Jesse Everett/Texas A&M Marketing & Communications


After an 18-month selection process and three months of on-campus training and acclimation, Reveille X took over as the university’s mascot in April. The American Rough Coat Collie came from Juell Collies in Topeka, Kansas, the same breeder that donated her predecessor. The new “Miss Reveille” is part of a mascot tradition that dates back to 1931, when a group of cadets adopted a dog they found along Highway 6. Her name was inspired by her habit of barking when the bugler called reveille to wake the cadets each morning.

6. Pioneering Intercollegiate School Of Engineering Medicine Established To Train “Physicianeers”

rodrick pettigrew portrait in lab
EnMed will continue to be led by its executive dean, world-renowned physician-scientist Dr. Roderic I. Pettigrew.

Courtesy of Michael Starghill


The Intercollegiate School of Engineering Medicine was announced in September as the organizational home of the EnMed initiative, a partnership between the College of Engineering and College of Medicine in collaboration with the state’s top-ranked Houston Methodist Hospital. EnMed aims to transform health care for all by training invention-minded, problem-solving doctors known as physicianeers. Faculty and students will also conduct broad translational medicine, interdisciplinary translational research and develop medical technologies.

7. Red, White & Blue Game Revived At Kyle Field For 20th Anniversary Of 9/11

In the days following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, five Aggies – current students at the time – sold more than 70,000 red, white and blue T-shirts in less than 10 days, in time for the football game against Oklahoma State on Sept. 22, 2001. The sale of these T-shirts and items sold after the game raised more than $235,000 for relief funds in New York. For this year’s game against Kent State, students in Maroon Out also filled Kyle Field with red, white and blue to honor the fallen and raise funds for Texas Task Force 1 and the President George H.W. Bush Points of Light Foundation. The sale of about 75,000 shirts raised $50,000 for each organization.

8. National Recognition Continues For Texas A&M’s Efforts In Diversity And Sustainability

students walk on campus with fall foliage
Students walk through the Texas A&M campus.

Texas A&M Division of Marketing & Communications


For the third year in a row, Texas A&M received the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the only national honor recognizing U.S. and Canadian colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. Diversity efforts also were honored with Diversity Abroad’s Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion in International Education (EDIIE) award for advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the field of global education. In addition, Texas A&M was named a top performer in the 2021 Sustainable Campus Index in the area of research after scoring 100 percent in the areas of research and scholarship, support for sustainability research, and open access to research.

9. Aggies Defeat Alabama At Kyle Field

crowd of fans surround a football player in a texas a&m jersey
The Texas A&M Aggies took on the Alabama Crimson tide Saturday, Oct. 9 at Kyle Field in one of the most anticipated games of the season.

Texas A&M Division of Marketing & Communications


The Aggies shocked the world of college football (and maybe even beyond) by knocking off the defending national champions and No. 1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide 41-38 in front of a sold-out crowd at Kyle Field on Oct. 9. “Texas A&M,” “College Station” and the names of several players trended across social media platforms well into the following Monday morning.

10. Another Year Of Record Enrollment

Texas A&M students walk through the Memorial Student Center. (Texas A&M Marketing & Communications)
Texas A&M students walk through the Memorial Student Center.

Texas A&M Marketing & Communications


Texas A&M proved to be the destination of choice for top students across Texas and around the world as enrollment broke another record. The total of 73,284 students this fall was a 3.1 increase from last fall’s figure of 71,109 students. Graduate programs also set a record with 15,894 students, about 1,000 more students than fall 2020, making graduate students about 21.6 percent of the total student body. The entering freshman cohort also broke a record, with 12,459 on the first day of classes.

11. After Nearly Three Decades Of Effort, Matthew Gaines Statue Added To Campus


A bronze statue of Matthew Gaines was unveiled near the Memorial Student Center in November, culminating a decades-long effort to recognize the former state senator who helped make Texas A&M possible. Gaines, a Baptist preacher in nearby Washington County following the Civil War, was born into slavery. After he was emancipated, he became a member of the 12th Texas Legislature and was instrumental in ensuring the state took advantage of the federal Morrill Act of 1862, which led to the creation of U.S. land-grant universities, including the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. The student group now known as the Matthew Gaines Society raised $350,000 to make the statue possible.

12. Texas A&M Designated An HACU Hispanic-Serving Institution

Texas A&M, Hispanic Serving Institution, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities
Texas A&M is nationally recognized for its growing enrollment of Hispanic students.

Texas A&M Division of Marketing & Communications


The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) named Texas A&M a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) in November to recognize that Hispanics make up at least 25 of undergraduate enrollment. Hispanic enrollment at Texas A&M reached 25 percent in fall 2020, and again in fall 2021. In the 2019-20 academic year, the university also earned three rankings in the top 30 for total bachelor’s and master’s degrees granted to Hispanics, and four rankings in the top six for number of Hispanic majors by discipline.

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