Thomas W. Powell ’62 of Giddings, Texas, is one of 12 Aggies selected by Texas A&M University and The Association of Former Students to receive the 2022 Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Powell, an entrepreneur in electrical energy systems who turned his family’s small Houston-based business, Powell Industries Inc., into an global juggernaut while helping generations of Texas A&M students and faculty achieve their own goals through his philanthropy, received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1962 from Texas A&M. He previously was inducted into the College of Science Academy of Distinguished Former Students in 2013.
Powell is being honored along with Gen. Joseph W. Ashy ’62 of College Station; Mark W. Albers ’79 of The Woodlands; Mark A. Fischer ’72 of Oklahoma City, OK; Gregory Cokinos ’79 of Houston; Bill Jones ’81 of Austin; Dr. Jimmy Williams Jr. ’83 of Wexford, PA; William Mahomes Jr. ’69 of Dallas; Clifton L. Thomas Jr. ’72 of Victoria; Elaine Mendoza ’87 of San Antonio; Travis L. Smith Jr., Class of 1898 of Houston; and Dr. Joe R. Fowler ’68 of Houston.
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 318 of Texas A&M’s more than 555,000 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.
After graduating from Texas A&M in 1962, Powell worked two years for Westinghouse Electric Corporation before returning to the family business and founding two subsequent corporations that he later merged and integrated into Powell Industries Inc., an international leader in engineering solutions to manage complex, critical processes that control power, water, wastewater, transportation and petrochemicals. He served nearly two decades as chief executive officer and chairman of the company, renowned by its 50th anniversary in 1997 as a publicly traded global leader in arc-resistant technology and electrical-voltage-regulation devices, retiring in 2012 as chairman of the board. He came out of retirement a few years later to resume his CEO role briefly before making his retirement permanent.
During the past decade and a half, Powell also has created major opportunities for both faculty and students at his alma mater, including multiple endowed chairs in the Texas A&M College of Science and at Texas A&M University at Galveston, graduate fellowships in Texas A&M Science as well as the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and undergraduate scholarships in support of Texas A&M Science’s flagship retention program, Science Leadership Scholars. A former member of the Texas A&M at Galveston Board of Visitors, he was honored in 2010 as the namesake of the campus’ Powell Marine Engineering Complex. In addition to welcoming Aggies to his ranch to study exotic animals, he remains active in a variety of community and civic causes, including past and current service on a number of area boards and committees.
Powell and his fellow 2022 recipients learned of their honors via surprise announcements from university and Association representatives, including The Association of Former Students’ 2022 Chair of the Board Dara Hegar ’94, Association President and CEO Porter S. Garner III ’79 and a Ross Volunteer.
“Our 2022 Distinguished Alumni highlight the remarkable impact Aggies make on their communities and on the world,” Hegar said. “The way they have lived their lives reflects honor and distinction upon the worldwide Aggie Network and leaves an outstanding legacy to which all Aggies can aspire.”
Garner echoed Hegar’s sentiments and offered his congratulations on behalf of The Association of Former Students.
“Fewer than one-tenth of one percent of Texas A&M’s 555,000 former students have been recognized with the Distinguished Alumnus Award,” Garner said. “The 2022 Distinguished Alumni belong in that exceptional group of Aggies because they exemplify excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect and selfless service. They inspire us all by their example.”
The Association of Former Students will further honor all recipients of this award during its annual Distinguished Alumni Gala set for Sept. 16. In addition, the 2022 recipients will be recognized during the Sept. 17 Texas A&M football game against Miami.
Nominations for the 2023 Distinguished Alumnus Award will be accepted through Aug. 31 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 provided $13.6 million in impact to university scholarships, awards, traditions and student activities and recognition for students, faculty, staff and former students in 2021.
Read more about the members of this year’s class at http://tx.ag/DA2022.
For more information about the Distinguished Alumnus Award or The Association, visit www.AggieNetwork.com.
Contact: Scot Walker ’90, (979) 845-7514 or [email protected]