Eddie Davis, Jr. will join the Class of 1967’s 50-year reunion class at the campus Muster ceremony, not just as a member, but as the 2017 Muster speaker.
A Vietnam War veteran, Davis got his bachelor’s degree in agricultural journalism, and was Commander of the Corps of Cadets during the 1966-1967 school year. After he received his master’s and doctorate from A&M, he continued to serve the university in multiple capacities, including as CFO, Executive Deputy Chancellor for the University System and president of the Association of Former Students. Davis has spoken at Aggie Musters around the world, including Hong Kong, Vietnam, Heidelberg and New York City.
Davis said being able to speak at his 50th class reunion holds a special meaning to him because of his extensive involvement with Texas A&M.
“I left here and spent four years on active duty and then [attended] graduate school and came back to work at A&M in 1972,” Davis said. “Other than three years when I was the chief financial officer up at North Texas I spent all of my career here at A&M or with the A&M System and the A&M Foundation.”
Bailey McCracken, communication junior and Speaker Executive for the Muster Committee, said the process of choosing the speaker for Muster involves many candidates and intensive deliberation.
“It’s a really deliberate process that we have, we get a lot of excellent nominations that come in and we look at each person off of six different traits that we look for in a speaker … We deliberate as a subcommittee, we talk through it, we present five to seven of the top people and then we vote on it and come back and decide on the speaker,” McCracken said.
McCracken said Davis’ involvement and commitment to A&M is something that stood out during the selection process.
“Ed Davis has been at A&M pretty much his whole life starting his freshman year of college until his retirement earlier this year … He has served at so many top positions at Texas A&M including CFO, interim president for a while, and then he was president of the Foundation for over 20 years,” McCracken said. “He’s just an all around excellent guy. You never hear a bad word about him; he loves this place.”
Jim Palincsar was senior vice president of development of the Texas A&M Foundation when Davis was president of the Foundation. Palincsar said Davis’ character is an embodiment of the values A&M holds dear.
“Here’s somebody who has dedicated his life to service, and in particular to Texas A&M,” Palincsar said. “I think he embodies the Aggie values of selfless service and leadership, integrity … He is just the walking billboard for all of the Aggie core values.”
When Davis found out he would be speaking at campus Muster, he said he immediately felt honored to be given such a big responsibility.
“It is also a challenge to try to get it right and to have remarks that will be meaningful and interesting for the group that is gathered on campus,” Davis said. “So a mix of feeling very honored and respected to be able to do it, and at the same time a little apprehensive about getting it right.”
Marikit Tomlinson, kinesiology senior and chair for the Muster Committee, said Davis’ speech will likely cover a variety of topics.
“He’s going to be telling some Old Ag stories, he’s going to be addressing his class… and talking about what his time looked like at A&M and he’s going to be addressing those in the audience who are there to honor their loved ones,” Tomlinson said.
Davis said among all A&M’s revered traditions, Muster stands alone as one of the most hallowed traditions A&M practices.
“From the 12th Man, to Silver Taps, to the football experience … But I think the ultimate tradition is Muster,” Davis said. “I think we revere it because it is a way of communicating that you are always a part of the Aggie family, and that being recognized by comrades after you have passed on; it is more than just symbolic with our institution.”
Davis said through Muster he hopes the families of the fallen know that they are just as much a part of the Aggie family as the Aggies they’ve lost.
“There is no way to totally heal people’s wounds who have lost a loved one especially if they’re a student and their life was cut short, but I hope the families who attend this Muster understand that whoever they are,” Davis said. “They will always be respected and a part of the Aggie family. I think it’s an important part of not only our tradition but their healing as we honor those who have died in the past year.”