The Association exists today as a proud and prominent resource for Texas A&M University because of the vision and loyalty inherent in our former students. This loyalty began in 1879, persevered through economic hardship, wars, political unrest and endured both tragedy and triumph.
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On June 26, 1879, with the Agricultural & Mechanical College of Texas still in its infancy, 11 former cadets hosted a reception in Houston initiating the first formal organization of A&M former students. It was decided at this first meeting to endeavor to keep a record of all former cadets who attended the A&M College of Texas, “thus promoting and maintaining fellowship.” The Ex-Cadets Association was reorganized to form the Alumni Association in 1888. Developing throughout the years in tandem with the Alpha Phi Fraternity which was founded in the 1890s and included former students who had not graduated, a coalition was formed in 1919 that formally adopted the name “The Association of Former Students.”
Lacking a permanent home, in 1910 the Alumni Association led a fundraising campaign to erect a YMCA-Alumni Memorial Building. The YMCA Building was dedicated on February 15, 1915, but the Y never became the alumni facility. Once construction was complete, The Association gave its space in the building to Texas A&M to answer the call for desperately needed space for the college and its students. The YMCA Building to this day still serves the university, housing various administrative offices.
In 1974, after seven moves to temporary locations, The Association moved to its first dedicated space in the Memorial Student Center with the opening of the Forsyth Alumni Center. With the enrollment explosion of Texas A&M in the 1970s and 1980s, The Association quickly outgrew this space. Finally realizing a vision first conceived in 1910, The Association constructed its first free-standing building in 1987, the Clayton W. Williams, Jr. Alumni Center. In 2008, a significant enhancement project was initiated to better utilize our facility in telling the powerful story of Texas A&M and Texas Aggies. Upon completion of the enhancements, the Williams Alumni Center was rededicated in the fall of 2009.
Former students of Texas A&M are proud of our past, yet remain committed to the future. This summary of milestones cannot begin to document the countless gifts of time, talent, and treasure from loyal, passionate former students throughout our history. While our methods and programs have evolved tremendously, the noble cause of the Ex-Cadets Association is still carried out by the staff and dedicated volunteers of The Association of Former Students.