To understand the origins of the Reveille North Houston Organization, one must first understand the rich history behind Texas A&M University (TAMU), the Houston A&M Club and the Reveille Club. Each of these will now be dealt with, before we address the birth of the Reveille North Houston Organization.
BRIEF HISTORY OF TAMU BEFORE REVEILLE NORTH HOUSTON BIRTHED
Based upon information obtained on various pages of the tamu.edu website, as well as other sources that will be provided, TAMU became the state’s first public institution of higher education, and it owes its existence to the Morrill Act, approved by the United States Congress on July 2, 1862, during the heat of the Civil War which began on April 12, 1861 and ended on May 9, 1865. Specifically, the Morrill Act stated that public land could be donated to the states for the funding of higher education, with the “leading object” (i.e., goal) being to teach “military tactics,” as well as the “agricultural and mechanical arts.”
Because of the Morrill Act, the State of Texas agreed to create a college in November 1866, but actual progress towards building an institution of higher education did not come until June 20, 1871 when a commission accepted the offer of 2,416 acres of land from the citizens of Brazos County, after the Texas state legislature had, on April 17, 1871, established the “Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas” and allocated “$75,000 for the construction of buildings.” Once the “Main Building” was erected, recruitment of students commenced, with admission limited to white males. Enrollment began on October 2, 1876 with six students registering on the first day. However, by the end of the first semester, the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas had grown by leaps and bounds to a whopping 48 students! Classes officially began on October 4, 1876, with six faculty members, at what was also known as “Texas A.M.C.”
During World War I (which lasted from July 28, 1914 to November 11, 1918), Texas AMC graduates were called to use their military training and, by 1918, 49% of all graduates of the college were in military service. In early September 1918, the entire senior class was mustered into military service, with many of the seniors fighting in France when the war ended two months later. After World War I, the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas grew rapidly and became nationally recognized for its agricultural, engineering, and military science programs. The first graduate school was organized in 1924 and, in 1925, Mary Evelyn Crawford Locke became the first female to receive a diploma from Texas AMC. However, she was not allowed to participate in the graduation ceremony, and the following month the Board of Directors officially prohibited all women from enrolling. In 1926, they codified that women in summer school had an unofficial status and could not pursue a degree. However, by 1930, over 1800 women had attended classes at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas.
In the late 1920s, following the discovery of oil on university lands, Texas AMC and the University of Texas negotiated a settlement for the division of the Permanent University Fund, which enabled A&M to receive one-third of the revenue. This guaranteed wealth permitted the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas to expand, with enrollment increasing even during the Great Depression (which started with the stock market crash on “Black Tuesday,” October 29, 1929, and which ended in the late 1930s with the advent of World War II), as student cooperative housing projects enabled students to attend the school at low costs. During the Great Depression, as professors were forced to accept a 25% pay cut, the Board of Directors partially rescinded its order against female enrollment, allowing no more than twenty females at a time (who had to be daughters of faculty members) to attend the college.
The Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas expanded its degree offerings in the late 1930s and awarded its first Ph.D. in 1940. During World War II (which lasted from September 1, 1939 to September 2, 1945), TAMC produced 20,229 fighting men who served in combat, with seven Aggies receiving the Medal of Honor, tying the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas with Virginia Tech as the most of any school outside of the military academies at West Point and Annapolis. Moreover, 29 former students reached the rank of general, and the college received nationwide exposure when a reporter wrote a story about the Aggie Muster on the island of Corregidor, which led to the World War II propaganda movie, We’ve Never Been Licked, filmed on the A&M campus.
Despite legal battles to make the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas a branch of the University of Texas, the legal conflict was nullified in 1948 when TAMC became the flagship school for a newly created system, distinct and separate from the University of Texas System. Enrollment grew as many former soldiers used the G.I. Bill to further their education, and unprepared for the growth, between 1949 and 1953, the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas used the former Bryan Air Force Base as an extension of the campus, with roughly 5,500 men living, studying, eating, showering and attending classes at the base, which became known as the “Annex” and later as the “Riverside Campus.”
Under the leadership of General James Earl Rudder, who became the president of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, in 1959, the institution desegregated in 1963, opened its admission process to “all females” in 1964, and dropped the requirement for participation in the Corps of Cadets in 1965. To reflect and encourage the institution’s shifts in direction, the Texas state legislature, in 1963, officially changed the name of the “Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas” to “Texas A&M University” and, in 1965, General Rudder was promoted from president of the TAMU flagship campus in College Station to president of the entire TAMU system of campuses, which he led until his death in 1970.
After the death of General Rudder, TAMU was designated as a sea-grant and as a space-grant institution, in 1971 and 1989, respectively. This made TAMU one of the first four universities to hold the triple distinction of being a land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant institution. Following this triple distinction, the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum opened in 1997, making TAMU one of the relatively few universities to host a presidential library and, by the time that the Reveille North Houston Organization was birthed by Phillip Wilkerson at See The Beacon in 2016, TAMU had become the nation’s only university (i.e., according to Dr. Clark at Premier Business Experts) to rank among the top ten in the following four key categories:
(1) student body size enrolled at a single campus (fourth with 61,642 students, behind “from-top-to-bottom” the University of Phoenix, Liberty University and Grand Canyon University, which each have higher numbers due to their online programs, per U.S. Department of Education’s Digest of Education Statistics, 2015),
(2) enrollment of National Merit Scholars (tenth overall and second in terms of public universities with 177 based on National Merit Scholarship Data for 2010, behind “from-top-to-bottom” the University of Chicago, Harvard, University of Southern California, Northwestern, University of Oklahoma, Yale, Washington University in St. Louis, Princeton and Vanderbilt),
(3) research productivity (fourth by Best College Reviews’ Top 50 Research Universities for 2016-2017, behind “from-top-to-bottom” MIT, UCLA and John Hopkins), and
(4) endowment (eighth at $9,754,202,036 for the end of fiscal 2015 per U. S. News & World Report, behind “from-top-to-bottom” Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, MIT, University of Pennsylvania and University of Michigan – Ann Arbor.)
HISTORY OF HOUSTON A&M CLUB BEFORE REVEILLE NORTH BIRTHED
To support their alma mater, graduates of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, living in Houston, founded the Houston A&M Club in 1923. Because of A&M bylaws, allowing only one alumni group per county in Texas, the Houston A&M Club became the official A&M alumni association for Harris County. From its origins until the present, the Houston A&M Club has fostered the Aggie Spirit, supported A&M and funded scholarships for Houston area students attending A&M. By the time that the Reveille North Houston Organization was birthed in 2016, the Houston A&M Club had (i.e., according to its website) given $1.5 million to A&M, volunteered more than 21,000 hours of time to the Houston Food Bank, and invested in the future of more than 400, third-through-twelfth-grade “under-privileged students” in the Caring Aggie Mentoring Program (C.A.M.P.) The Houston A&M Club had even reached a level of awarding more than thirty-five scholarships per year to TAMU students, by the time that Phillip Wilkerson at See The Beacon started the Reveille North Houston Organization!
As a non-profit, tax-exempt entity, based on section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service Codes, the Houston A&M Club has the following three objectives: (1) to provide financial aid to Houston area students attending Texas A&M University, (2) to support Texas A&M University’s colleges, departments, and student organizations, and (3) to make a positive difference for Aggies in the Houston community. However, despite the tax-exempt advantages, the 501(c)(3) status prohibits the Houston A&M Club from “furthering private interests,” and “engaging in lobbying, propaganda or any activities aimed at influencing legislation.” Hence, to comply with the law, individuals attending Houston A&M Club lunches cannot promote their own business interests when they introduce themselves to the group. Nevertheless, the Houston A&M Club is extremely active, and you are encouraged to (1) attend its events, which are posted on the Houston A&M Club website, and (2) contribute enlightening Houston A&M Club stories that can be posted in the following “Read more” section.
HISTORY OF REVEILLE CLUB BEFORE REVEILLE NORTH BIRTHED
Because many Aggies wanted to meet for breakfast rather than lunch and because of the restrictions imposed by the 501(c)(3) mandates (which prevented individuals from promoting their own business interests during their introductions) the Reveille Club was started in 1982 with its motto of “Aggies Doing Business with Aggies.” Its major founders were the following:
(1) Dr. Barry Griffin (who attended TAMU from 1966-1973, who graduated with BS Animal Science and DVM degrees and who at the time of the birth of the Reveille North Houston Organization was running Windsong Management based in Cypress, TX),
(2) Vicki Brown-Sobecki (who was an “All-American Swimmer” at TAMU, who graduated in 1978 with a BA, and who in 2016 was working for the Harris County Government),
(3) Butch Ghutzman (class of 1971, who played baseball for the Aggies. who obtained his BBA in 1972 and who was president of JayByrd Deliveries when Reveille North Houston was birthed),
(4) Paul Pausky (who graduated from TAMU with a BBA in 1978 before joining Bud Griffin Associates, a company started by Barry Griffin’s A&M mechanical engineering father, and who, in 2016, was working at TAMU’s Career Center in College Station, helping former students), and
(5) G. C. Pete Stanley (Pete began attending classes at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas in 1942 and graduated in 1946. As Pete, who attended the weekly Reveille Club meetings until his death in 2015, recalled, in his “My Aggie Story” on YouTube, his A&M matriculation fee, before he started taking classes was $25, while his per semester medical and laundry fees were respectively $5 and $12, during the WWII years when he was at A&M. Yet, as Pete noted shortly before his death, the costs to attend A&M have gone up a bit since that time.)
In the early 1980s, oil was selling for $33 a barrel, and many forecasts said it would reach $60 with some forecasts saying more than $100. However, in 1982, when the Reveille Club was formed, a world-wide oil glut caused oil prices to start falling, stagnating at $27 in 1985, before the bottom dropped out and prices fell precipitously. Oil finally reached $10 a barrel in January 1986. With 70% of the jobs in Houston tied to the oil industry, energy, engineering, construction and financial companies downsized and, in many instances, folded, with the ranks of “in transition” Aggies attending Reveille Club meetings, in search of jobs, soaring.
The next generation of Pat Mahoney (Class of 1971), Sam Williams (Class of 1968), Freddie Wong (Class of 1969) and Larry Careker (Class of 1971) became the backbone of the Reveille Club and, during the year when the Reveille North Houston Organization was born, these individuals were still very active in the Reveille Club. In 2016, Pat Mahoney and Larry Careker were respectively running the Patrick Mahoney Law Firm, specializing in real estate, and Contract Design, a staffing and recruiting firm, while Sam Williams (one of the first African-Americans to attend A&M and one of the first African-Americans on the football team) and Freddie Wong (one of the first Asia-born individuals to attend TAMU and a TAMU electrical engineer by training) were pouring hours of their sweat equity, and personal finances from their “working years,” into the lives of inner-city children to keep them on the “straight and narrow.”
While the Reveille Club’s annual golf tournament, started in 1990 (and now known as the Pete Stanley Memorial Classic), raises thousands of dollars, which are used to make contributions to student organizations at TAMU, the C.A.M.P. (i.e., Caring Aggie Mentoring Program), co-founded by Sam Williams and Freddie Wong, in 2005, is a long-term mentoring program. The C.A.M.P. volunteers follow the same group of under-privileged students from the third grade to their high-school graduations. Its volunteers meet once a month, with the same group of children, to participate in life-enriching and fun activities, ranging from attending sporting events to helping at the Houston Food Bank.
As for more details on the ways in which you can get involved with the Reveille Club, you are encouraged to visit its Reveille Club website. Likewise. you are urged to share your edifying Reveille Club stories, which can be posted in the following “Read more” section.
THE BIRTH OF THE REVEILLE NORTH HOUSTON ORGANIZATION
Phillip Wilkerson (BS Industrial Engineering, 1991), founded the Reveille North Houston Organization, as an offshoot of the Reveille Club meetings on Thursday mornings in the Houston Galleria Area. As Phillip explains it, he found himself “in transition” when the company that he had dedicated his life to for “eighteen years” experienced a “downturn in some of its core businesses.” However, because his “focus” had been in terms of that corporation, he discovered himself lacking in terms of his network, which is why he began attending Reveille Club meetings.
After Phillip learned about the successes of newly-formed, Houston-based, Aggie-owned companies, in an enlightening session held by TAMU’s Dr. Richard Lester honoring them, he was inspired to start his See the Beacon, Personalized Management Solutions, Business. Yet, it was also at the Reveille Club meetings that Phillip learned about many Reveille Club members, who lived in or near The Woodlands, Texas, and who were attending very few meetings, due to the drive-times and their busy schedules. Thus, he started the Reveille North Houston Organization, as the Fall 2016 “Start of School” approached.
At the onset, a handful of Aggies began meeting for breakfast at “Another Broken Egg” restaurant at 19075 Interstate 45 S Suite 102, Shenandoah, TX 77385 on Friday mornings. However, while that restaurant did an excellent job of serving those who were attending the Reveille North Houston Organization meetings during the first few months, the number of attendees soon outgrew that restaurant’s capacity, which led to the Reveille North Houston Organization moving its meetings to Cilantro’s Mexican Grill (i.e., at 314 Sawdust Road, The Woodlands, TX 77380) before 2016 had ended, and then to Luby’s Cafeteria (i.e., at 922 Lake Front Circle, The Woodlands, TX 77380) during May 2017.
In a manner, reminiscent of the Reveille Club during its early years, the Reveille North Houston Organization swelled in the number of individuals attending its meetings, due to a downturn in the oil and natural gas industry. More specifically, the American Petroleum Institute noted that the number of drilled wells completed in the fourth quarter of 2015 decreased 21% compared to the third quarter of 2015, due to the “low prices associated with a worldwide glut.” This downturn led to massive layoffs and a soft housing market. Moreover, despite the number of wells drilled and completed in the fourth quarter of 2016 decreasing by only 8.8%, compared to the third quarter of 2016 (which was a marked improvement from the previous year and which provided some optimism for a “rebounding of the energy industry”), individuals were still losing their jobs and turning to the Reveille North Houston Organization to build their networks, with many of those “in transition individuals” landing new jobs in non-energy arenas.
By its eighth month, the Reveille North Houston Organization had exceeded 250 different attendees, and it now has a weekly attendance that often numbers more than fifty! You are cordially invited to (1) share your entertaining stories about the Reveille North Houston Organization, which can be posted in the below “Read more” section, and (2) attend the Reveille North Houston meetings, where you will be able to share the Aggie Spirit shown on the Reveille North Houston Organization’s Facebook and LinkedIn pages, as well as help to create a positive history. Gig ‘em.