Brig. Gen. Patrick Michaelis ’93 became the 46th Commandant of Texas A&M University’s Corps of Cadets on Oct. 1, 2022. He aims to continue strengthening the Corps’ ability to develop leaders of character and bring to fruition a new March to 3,000 initiative to expand cadet enrollment.
“I’m extremely excited and humbled to help shape the future of the Corps and its relationship to the university, state and nation,” he said. “I am inspired by how passionate, committed, inquisitive and smart our cadets are and how integrated they are in the fabric of the university. They value being the Keepers of the Spirit.”
How did the Corps of Cadets position you for a long and successful military career?
My experience in the Corps gave me a bedrock of values, work ethic, discipline and leadership skills that allowed me to make an immediate impact in my role as a U.S. military officer.
What made you decide to accept this position?
Even as a young cadet, I viewed the role of Commandant with reverence and awe. This opportunity only comes open once in a generation, so I had a long conversation with my wife, my family and a few of my mentors in the Army. This role will allow me to give back in a way that is fulfilling, exciting and in line with what I consider my strengths.
What are you most excited about regarding this role?
I’m an Army brat—the son of an Army officer and the grandson of a WWII Air Corpsman. Both served full careers in the military. I’ve moved not only as a youth but also as a military officer 29 times in 51 years. The longest I ever lived somewhere was the four years I spent here at Texas A&M as an undergrad. To me, it’s like coming home after serving the country, and as the Commandant, I get to continue to serve in a capacity that affects the future of our state and nation.
What makes you uniquely suited for this position?
I have 30 years of experience at the tactical, operational and strategic levels. I’ve also seen and been part of leading large organizations through change, whether on the battlefield or in the United States. I’ve been an assistant professor at West Point, where I taught young cadets the mechanics of leadership and a capstone management course on leading organizations through change.
My most recent assignment was serving as the commanding general at Fort Jackson, which trains 60% of citizens entering the armed forces, so I understand youth today and how to guide them through a transformational journey.
What are your first impressions of where the Corps is now and where it needs to go?
As I do an assessment, I’m committed first to cadets’ academics and education. We’ve come so far during the last 10 years under my predecessor in having a higher GPA than the collective university.
The second thing I’m committed to is the Corps experience, which uses a military cultural model to create leaders for the state and nation in every sector. We need to ensure that the Corps experience matches today’s and tomorrow’s military models.
The third commitment is to the Corps being a student-led organization. Giving cadets opportunities to work through the complexities of leadership and the space to make decisions is something that—if we do it right—becomes a demand signal for businesses and industries looking for talent.
Why is the March to 3,000 initiative a priority, and how will it bolster the Corps?
The nation demands the product we produce—and they need more of it. The need for the skills cadets gain through the Corps is a great driver for moving to 3,000 enrolled cadets.
March to 3,000 is also a vehicle to reexamine where we need to be. You can look at it through the lens of branding, marketing, recruiting and retention, but also in terms of facilities, human capital and resources. If we’re going to grow the Corps to 3,000 members, we need to do so in a methodical, thoughtful way. To reach a sustainable number over time, you must have the right structure, resources and talent in place.
How important are donors and private philanthropy to the Corps’ present and future?
There’s no doubt that those who give to the university and the Corps have had a direct impact on where we are today. I want to provide a compelling vision for how these gifts directly impact cadets’ lives today and their role as future leaders. We create tomorrow’s potential today—and donors’ gifts invest in that potential.
This story originally appeared in Spirit Magazine.