For more than fifty years, the Memorial Student Center—the MSC—has served as the “living room” of the Texas A&M University campus. Beyond its lounges, dining, and recreational facilities, though, the MSC has played a vital role in the transformation of Texas A&M from an all-male, all-military, rural college to a university internationally recognized for excellence in a variety of fields.
The MSC, conceived as a memorial to Aggies who lost their lives in the two world wars, opened its doors in September 1950. More than just a monument to fallen comrades, however, the MSC and the programs initiated by J. Wayne Stark, its first director, helped the university expand its focus to embrace an even more inclusive future.
Author Amy Bacon surveys the development of two functions that quickly became vital to the mission of the Memorial Student Center: its role as a leadership laboratory for students—especially those not in the Corps of Cadets—and its centerpiece location as a place of extracurricular cultural and intellectual enrichment. The various student-led committees of the MSC provided important avenues for students to address social, political, and other interests, while the world-class speakers and arts events sponsored by the MSC afforded access to many students who would not otherwise have enjoyed such opportunities. Bacon demonstrates how the MSC and the traditions that have developed around it blend with the national student union movement in a unique way that enhances the institutional heritage and aspirations of Texas A&M University.
This attractively illustrated book draws heavily on recorded oral histories, archives, and extensive interviews with key administrative leaders and students, both former and current. Building Leaders, Living Traditions narrates the story of an institution that has transformed and enriched the lives of thousands of Aggie students and is poised to continue its vital mission for decades to come.
What Readers Are Saying:
". . . . The sight of the MSC evokes a sense of calm acquaintance. When you take off your hat and walk inside, its unique aroma stirs memory, emotion, and hope. . . ." --Eddie J. Davis '67, President, Texas A&M Foundation
“This is the story of the "other education" that Texas Aggies receive at Texas A&M University. The Memorial Student Center (MSC) is a living memorial that serves both to preserve and honor the past while facilitating change, enrichment, and the diversification of the unique culture of Aggieland. It is a community center, a leadership laboratory, and a spiritual center-and with the Corps of Cadets is at the core of the total Aggie life experience. And this is a story that has never been told.” --Henry Dethloff
“Student unions enhance the education students receive in the college classrooms and are a place where they learn and build character. At the heart of Texas A&M University, the Memorial Student Center is a special building where this continues to occur for so many Aggies. Congratulations Amy Bacon for telling its story.” --John H. Lindsey, Class of ‘44
“Sometimes a building takes on a life of its own. You know what I mean. When someone mentions it by name you easily relate. The sight of it evokes a sense of calm acquaintance and when you take off your hat and walk inside, its unique aroma stirs memory, emotion, and hope. That is what Amy Bacon’s terrific rendition Living Memorial, Living Tradition did for me. --Eddie J. Davis ’67, President, Texas A&M Foundation
“The MSC is as much a tradition on the Texas A&M campus as the Aggie Ring or Muster. It is the physical heart of Aggieland that invokes and inspires so much of our spirit. Amy tells it the right way through the people who both guided and absorbed the ‘C.’ --Eddie J. Davis ’67, President, Texas A&M Foundation
“I learned more about life, culture, and the practice of leadership at the MSC than I did in the classroom. It did more than just attract leaders, it shaped them, and it is still doing so today. Amy Bacon’s story told through the different decades of former students who were touched by its physical and personal nurturing makes it a comfortable and easy read. --Eddie J. Davis ’67, President, Texas A&M Foundation
“Many, from the MSC Council and Program Committee participants, to those who attended leadership conferences and excursions, to those who had a simple cup of coffee with a colleague or faculty mentor, will all have wonderful memories revived by turning its pages. --Eddie J. Davis ’67, President, Texas A&M Foundation
“How appropriate it is that this worthy volume is produced at the embarkation of the MSC’s most recent ambitious project to renew itself. For that reason and many more, for ‘MSC Rats,’ past and future, and above all the brave soldiers it honors, this volume is worth the time of every Aggie patron.” --Eddie J. Davis ’67, President, Texas A&M Foundation