In 2005, under the direction of then-Texas A&M University President Dr. Robert Gates, university leadership set out to identify the values that define Texas A&M on a level deeper than any one tradition. After careful study, they found six traits that set Aggieland apart: Respect, Excellence, Leadership, Loyalty, Integrity and Selfless Service. Nearly 15 years later, we still use these core values to communicate the principles we identify with as Aggies; but how do we make sure we are truly living them?
Bob Jordan ’85 has spent much of his more than 30-year career at Southwest Airlines asking the same question about his company’s values. When he joined Southwest in 1988, it was still something of an underdog in the airline industry. Because Southwest gave employees a personal stake in the company, they worked together to push the airline forward despite heavy competition. This created a unique culture among employees that Bob compares to that of his alma mater, Texas A&M.
As the executive vice president of corporate services, Bob’s duties today revolve around maintaining that culture by reinforcing Southwest’s three living values: having a “warrior’s spirit,” a “servant’s heart” and a fun-loving attitude. Instead of emphasizing these values with his words alone, he brings them to life through his actions. Bob’s wife, Kelly ’86, points to his practice of personally reaching out to employees to acknowledge their contributions as just one example of his compassionate leadership style.
As proud former students, the Jordans give generously to Texas A&M through scholarships, professorships and other outstanding gifts, including a lead gift for renovations to Aggie Park, because they want future Aggies to inherit a university where they can learn to act as members of a community bigger than themselves. They have also been inspired by Aggies before them who jumped at opportunities to help others.
The Jordans can live the organizational values at Southwest and Texas A&M because they recognize that these standards are grounded in the greater human values of selfless service, sincerity, altruism, and a strong sense of right and wrong. By defining what they believe in and challenging themselves every day to act accordingly, the Jordans set a sky-high bar for their own leadership and a shining example for all Aggies who aspire to do the same.
Thanks and Gig ’em,
Tyson Voelkel ’96
President, Texas A&M Foundation