Dr. R. Bowen Loftin ’71 of Bryan, Texas, is one of 12 Aggies selected by Texas A&M University and The Association of Former Students to receive the 2020 Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Loftin, who served as the 24th president of Texas A&M University (2010-14) as well as vice president and chief executive officer of Texas A&M University at Galveston (2005-10), where he also was a professor of maritime systems engineering, received his bachelor of science in physics in 1970 from Texas A&M. He previously was inducted into the College of Science Academy of Distinguished Former Students in 2010.
Loftin is being honored along with Dr. C.M. Cocanougher ’53 of Decatur; Weldon Jaynes ’54 of Arlington; LTG Randolph W. House ’67 of College Station; R. Sam Torn ’70 of Houston; John D. White ’70 of College Station; Carol E. Jordan ’80 of Lexington, Ky.; Willie T. Langston II ’81 of Houston; Tim Leach ’82 of Midland; Thomas J. Saylak ’82 of Scarsdale, N.Y.; Mike Hernandez III ’83 of Fort Worth; and Charean Williams ’86 of Arlington.
Established in 1962, the Distinguished Alumnus Award is the highest honor bestowed upon a former student of Texas A&M University. Since its inception, only 303 of Texas A&M’s 527,000 former students have been recognized for achieving excellence in their chosen professions and making meaningful contributions to Texas A&M University and their local communities.
“We are proud of these wonderful former students and all of their accomplishments and contributions,” said Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young. “They are all deserving of the highest honor bestowed upon our alumni. We look forward to joining The Association in recognizing their achievements.”
A native of Navasota, Loftin graduated a year early from Texas A&M in 1970 with his bachelors in physics and then earned his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in physics from Rice University in 1973 and 1975, respectively. He began his distinguished career in higher education in 1976 as a lecturer in physics at the University of Houston, eventually rising to professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science and director of the NASA Virtual Environments Research Institute by the time he left in 2000 for Norfolk, Va., and a position as professor of electrical and computer engineering and professor of computer science at Old Dominion University, where he also served as director of simulation programs and executive director of the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center. Loftin returned to Texas in 2005, accepting the position of vice president and chief executive officer at Texas A&M-Galveston before assuming the role of interim president of the College Station campus from June 2009 to February 12, 2010, the date he was formally confirmed as Texas A&M’s 24th president. Most recently, he served as the 22nd chancellor of the University of Missouri from 2014 to 2015.
Loftin has been recognized with multiple awards for his work in education, including the University of Houston-Downtown Award for Excellence in Teaching and in Service (twice), the American Association of Artificial Intelligence Award for the innovative application of artificial intelligence, NASA’s Public Service Medal and the 1995 NASA Invention of the Year Award. He has served on numerous governmental and professional panels, advisory committees and boards during the past decades, including Chief Executive Officers of the Southeastern Conference, the FBI’s National Security Higher Education Advisory Board and, currently, the MRIGlobal Research Institute Board of Trustees.
Loftin and his fellow 2020 recipients learned of their honors via surprise announcements from university and Association representatives, including Young, The Association of Former Students’ 2020 Chair of the Board Cathy Mann ’92, Association President and CEO Porter S. Garner III ’79, Texas A&M Foundation President Tyson Voelkel ’96, 12th Man Foundation President Travis Dabney ’96, and a Ross Volunteer.
“Our 2020 Distinguished Alumni lead and excel in a wide array of career fields,” Mann said. “While their experiences span diverse career fields, they each consistently embody our core values of excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect and selfless service and represent the Aggie Network with distinction.”
Garner echoed Young’s and Mann’s sentiments 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,” Garner said. “Those we honor in 2020 are in elite company, with fewer than one-tenth of one percent of our 527,000 former students recognized with this prestigious award.”
All 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients will be honored by The Association of Former Students in the July-August 2020 issue of Texas Aggie magazine. Read more about the members of this year’s class at http://tx.ag/DA2020.
Nominations for the 2021 Distinguished Alumnus Award will be accepted through Oct. 2 at http://tx.ag/DAnominations.
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 is providing $13.9 million in impact to university scholarships, awards, activities and enrichment for students, faculty, staff and former students in 2020.
For more information about the Distinguished Alumnus Award or The Association, visit www.AggieNetwork.com.
Contact: Kathryn Greenwade ’88, (979) 845-7514 or KGreenwade88@AggieNetwork.com