John J. Koldus III passed away on Aug. 12 at the age of 89. Koldus served as Texas A&M’s vice president for student affairs from 1973 to 1993 and is the namesake for the Student Services Building.
In a statement release by the university, current Vice President for Student Affairs Daniel J. Pugh shared his appreciation for Koldus’ work.
“In building our nation’s preeminent Division of Student Affairs, he maintained his commitment to the Aggie leadership philosophy of ‘student-led, student-run’ programs,” Pugh said. “Mrs. Pugh and I were blessed through our interactions with Dr. and Mrs. Koldus and we will cherish our memories of him.”
University President Michael K. Young said in the statement that Koldus’ time as VPSA will continue to help A&M and its students.
“John J. Koldus III led the Division of Student Affairs as its first vice president with a sense of devotion underpinned by this institution’s core values at a pivotal moment in its history,” Young said. “His vision for a university that served students of every background across the state of Texas, the nation and the world left an indelible mark on this campus and will continue to guide the university he loved dearly for decades to come. Aggies of the past, present and future thank him.”
Koldus was born in Gary, Indiana in 1930 where he grew up to be a talented football player, earning him a scholarship to Arkansas State University.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in education, Koldus served in the U.S. Army for several years. Later, he pursued his master’s and doctorate at his alma mater while coaching at high schools across Texas and Arkansas.
At Arkansas State, Koldus began teaching at the collegiate level and joined East Texas State University, now known as Texas A&M - Commerce, in 1963.
“During his 10 years at the Commerce campus, he held numerous positions, including Assistant and Associate Professor of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, Professor of Psychology, Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Affairs,” A&M’s statement said.
After the retirement of A&M’s Dean of Students James P. Hannigan, Koldus was hired by the university to take on the new role of vice president of student services.
Koldus oversaw organizations such as the Corps of Cadets, the Memorial Student Center and Student Activities. According to the statement, the number of student organizations at A&M increased to over 700 under his leadership. Along with his administrative duties, Koldus instructed classes and belonged to several academic committees centered around students pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees.
His work at A&M earned Koldus several awards for his work, including the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators’ Fred Turner Award for Outstanding Service to NASPA in 1986 and the Texas Association of College and University Student Personnel Administrators Distinguished Service Award in 1989.
At A&M, Koldus was awarded the Outstanding Administrator Award by the Student Senate, The Association of Former Students’ Distinguished Achievement Award for Student Relations and the Buck Weirus Spirit Award.
His legacy also continues through the A&M Foundation’s John J. Koldus Quality of Student Life endowment, which helps the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs address a variety of student needs.
Koldus’ time at A&M and his work with the various organizations under him was marked by his positive and supportive attitude toward the students, former Student Body President Brad Smith said in A&M’s statement.
According to the university’s statement, Koldus kept a saying on his desk that read: “Give life your best shot – but enjoy it!”