Bill Howell ’69
Our Class of ’69 came to campus at the pivotal time when President Earl Rudder’s vision of a world class university began to be implemented. Change was coming to Aggieland but there was something here that continues to be deeply imbedded in all Aggies–even as Texas A&M grew in size, diversity and stature. That “something” is THE AGGIE SPIRIT. With our Aggie Spirit, the Class of ’69 committed at our 40th Reunion to leave a legacy that focused upon the values, character and deep-seated spirit of all who embrace our beloved Texas A&M.
This project, The Spirit Plaza, grew out of a suggestion in 2013 by then Vice President of Student Affairs, General Joe Weber, to place a plaza, similar to what we were doing in the Quad with the Bugle Stand, in the central area of the campus. At our weekly Friday breakfast, five non-reg classmates—as this was the civilian side of the campus—volunteered to seek a feasible location and venue. It was discovered that, since the year 2000, a letter was read during a program at Fish Camp to introduce new students to the solemn traditions of Silver Taps and Muster. It closely tied to our Class of ’69 because that student, his fish buddy and a senior from our Class were all tragically killed in a car accident during our senior Corps trip to Dallas in the Fall of 1968. Our Class committee began designing a plaza that brought together the existing sculptures of Silver Taps, Muster and adding a descriptive marker incorporating this poignant letter which captured the essence of Silver Taps and the Aggie Spirit. Through a contest within a third year landscape architecture class, the scope of the project was expanded and a renowned local artist and a monuments designer joined the committee along with a landscape architect instructor and one of the students from that class.
With sponsorship from the Vice President of Student Affairs office, the committee proceeded to work—and rework—through the University process of committee reviews and approval. The project was deemed acceptable by the Committees and the President’s office but became log-jammed by differences in what needed to be in the plaza to reflect the Aggie Spirit. This was resolved by President Michael Young along with Vice President Michael O’Quinn, and with the help and leadership of the University Architect, the project moved rapidly forward and became what you see before you today.