Leading by example: Bush School deans reflect on school's namesake

COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (KBTX) - From former Secretaries of State to career Ambassadors with the United States Foreign Service, the Bush School of Government and Public Service has boasted some impressive leadership over its 21 years.

But as current and former deans will tell you, no leader compares to that of the school's namesake.

Former White House Chief of Staff, Andrew Card held the position of Dean from 2011-2013. He said he's been impressed with the former president's example of leadership from the beginning.

"The day he graduated form high school, he joined the US Navy and ended up becoming the youngest pilot in the history of US Navy. That was day one of a lifetime of noble public service," said Card.

"Everything about him testifies to what an utterly committed public figure he was," said Ambassador Ryan Crocker. He held the position of Dean at the Bush School for six years, from 2010-16. He says it was always a good day when the Bush's dropped by the school.

"They would sit in on a class or two, talk informally to students. He would have the same kind of effect on these students that he had on me," said Crocker.

Current Dean Mark Welsh said 41 noticed everyone, and his logic that everybody matters, sets a prime example for the students coming through the school.

"Service is kind of a university wide thing here. It's not just a Bush thing," said Welsh. "So we're embedded in the right university, we have this incredible set of values that guide the university and is something in everything we do here. And then we have this namesake that is just the role model that we want our students to follow."

"President Bush personifies excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect and selfless service," Card continued. "There's no better place for that personification to kind of call his favorite place than Texas A&M University."

Former US Secretary of Defense Dr. Robert Gates, who served as Dean from 1999-2001, is remembering 41 fondly.

"There was a consistency in the culture and values of Texas A&M as an institution and George H.W. Bush as a public servant and as president," said Gates. "He was welcomed by the Aggie community and in turn, he provided great opportunities to Aggies."

Card said it was 41's passion that made him a phenomenal leader. "He's passionate about doing the right thing. He's about the most humble and phenomenal leader I've ever met. He's inviting, accommodating, welcoming and empowering."

The overall consensus between the leaders was if you ever weren't sure which direction to take, just look to the namesake.

"If you want to know how to make a difference, if you want to know how to serve the public good, just look at what President Bush did and you'll be fine," said Crocker.

"When you have someone who believes in you that much, and it's that kind of somebody who has that belief in you, well that's just inspirational for everyone," said Welsh.