Robert Gates is a week-and-a-half away from ending his time as Texas A&M president. Thursday afternoon, the soon-to-be Secretary of Defense talked to the media for the first time since he was confirmed by the Senate.
It has certainly been a roller-coaster of emotions for him, as was evidenced by his light-hearted jokes, but also his sincere emotion about the school he has led for nearly five years.
Among his comments:
"It's been a bit of a whirlwind. I keep pinching myself trying to imagine I'll wake up and think it's been a dream of some kind. It's all happened so fast that, as I told one Senator in a courtesy call, less than a month ago, I was more worried about how to beat Nebraska than I was how to beat Al Qaida."
"I would like to see a Texas A&M that is one of the top-ranked universities in the United States. I'd like to see a Texas A&M where the traditions and the culture and the spirit are just as strong in 2020 or 2030 as they are in 2007, 2006."
"I've never been a particularly outgoing person, and I think that's changed some here. Just the overall friendly atmosphere and the incredible quality of virtually everybody, not just at the university, but everyone in the community. I'm probably a friendlier person that I used to be because I came to Texas A&M."
"My advice to a successor? Don't screw up a good thing."
"My work here is done. We beat Texas."