Since the inception of the award in 1962, only 281 of Texas A&M’s 488,500 former students have been recognized with the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Awarded jointly by the university and The Association, this honor recognizes those Aggies who have achieved excellence in their chosen professions and made meaningful contributions to Texas A&M University and their local communities.

“The 2018 Distinguished Alumni are emblematic of the goals and missions of the university,” said Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young. “We encourage our students to take the Aggie core values into the world and make it a better place through achievement, leadership and service. This group of individuals includes leaders from different fields who have done just that, contributing to our state, nation and world outstandingly in the military, business and industry, architecture, entertainment, public policy and higher education. Although they traveled different paths after graduation, what they all have in common is their enduring love and support of Texas A&M, and for that their fellow Aggies are grateful.”

The recipients learned of their honor when surprised in their places of business and other locations by university and Association representatives. Association President and CEO Porter S. Garner III, Class of ’79, accompanied by a Ross Volunteer, was present at each of the surprise announcements. Young, The Association of Former Students’ 2018 Chair of the Board of Directors Jimmy Williams, Class of ’83, Ph.D., Texas A&M Foundation President Tyson Voelkel, Class of ’96, and university mascot Reveille IX and her handler also made several of the trips to congratulate recipients.

“Our 2018 Distinguished Alumni are innovators, achievers, leaders and selfless servants,” Williams said. “They exemplify our core values of excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect and selfless service, and I am inspired by the way they represent our Aggie Network.”

Garner echoed the sentiments of Young and Williams and offered his congratulations on behalf of The Association of Former Students.

“The Distinguished Alumnus award is the highest honor bestowed upon a former student of Texas A&M, and fewer than one-tenth of one percent of our former students have been recognized as such,” Garner said. “Our 2018 recipients are most deserving of this honor and demonstrate the wide-ranging impacts of the Aggie Network on our society.”

The Association of Former Students will further honor all recipients of this award during its annual Distinguished Alumni Gala on Oct. 5. In addition, the 2018 recipients will be recognized during the Oct. 6 Texas A&M football game against Kentucky. Nominations for the 2019 Distinguished Alumnus Award will be accepted through Oct. 7 at

The Association of Former Students, established in 1879, is the official alumni organization of Texas A&M University. The Association connects hundreds of thousands of members of the worldwide Aggie Network with each other and the university, and provided $12.6 million in impact to university scholarships, awards, activities and enrichment for students, faculty, staff and former students in 2017. For more information about the Distinguished Alumnus Award or The Association, contact Kathryn Greenwade at [email protected] or visit

Robert Earl Keen, Class of ’78, is an award-winning singer/songwriter with 19 albums to his credit. His most recognizable song is “The Road Goes On Forever.” He came up through the Texas folk scene to receive recognition as an Americana music pioneer, credited with bringing a new heyday to grassroots Texas music. In 2012, he was inducted into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame; in 2015, he received BMI’s Troubadour Award for songwriting. He has raised, through more than a decade of benefit concerts, three-quarters of a million dollars for The Hill Country Youth Orchestras; he has returned to Texas A&M to play benefits for those affected by Hurricane Harvey and the 1999 Bonfire collapse; and he has worked to support groups including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Kerrville’s Peterson Regional Medical Center, United Way-Hays County, The Fisher House at Fort Sam Houston and many educational causes. He created the “What Does Music Look Like To Me?” art contest program in Kerrville schools. Unique within the music industry, he provides his musicians and bandmates security by keeping them on salary year-round with insurance and retirement accounts.

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