Three Aggies have been selected as the 2021 recipients of the highest honor bestowed upon a former student of Texas A&M University, the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Texas A&M University and The Association of Former Students are proud to welcome as Distinguished Alumni:
- John C. Otto ’70
- E.E. “Mr. Mac” McQuillen, Class of 1920
- Ray B. Nesbitt ’55
John C. Otto, Class of 1970, was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2004 and represented District 18 for six terms, from 2005 to 2017; he chaired the House Appropriations Committee and served in other key positions. In 2017, he became assistant vice chancellor and director of local government relations for The Texas A&M University System. Otto previously served on Dayton’s city council and school board, and also served 8 years active and reserve duty in the U.S. Army. He was a certified public accountant in Dayton from 1975 to 2010 and in Houston from 1970 to 1975. In 2017, The Association of Former Students and Texas A&M Advocacy Network presented Otto with the Olin “Tiger” Teague ’32 Award for outstanding contributions and government service on behalf of A&M. In 2020, the mace used by A&M’s head drum major to lead the Aggie Band was named in honor of Otto, a former A&M head drum major.
E.E. “Mr. Mac” McQuillen, Class of 1920, led The Association of Former Students as Executive Secretary from 1926 to 1947. He firmly established Aggie Muster as a worldwide tradition; reorganized and encouraged A&M Clubs throughout Texas and beyond; created an Opportunity Award Scholarship Program that helped thousands attend A&M; and introduced annual giving in 1942. In 1943, McQuillen created the first Muster packets sent worldwide, formalizing Aggies’ practice of gathering on April 21 under the name of “Muster.” He initiated the Gold Star Fund for children of former students killed in combat and led fundraising for A&M’s Memorial Student Center. From 1947 to 1963, he was director of the Texas A&M Development Office; he led the Texas A&M Development Foundation (today’s Texas A&M Foundation) 1953-63. A former A&M basketball captain, he was elected to the Texas A&M Athletic Hall of Fame in 1975.
Ray B. Nesbitt, Class of 1955, retired in 1998 as president of Exxon Chemical Co. after a 43-year career with Exxon; previous positions included vice president of Exxon Chemical Europe and president of Exxon Chemical Americas. A recipient of the Texas A&M Engineering Outstanding Alumni Award, he and wife Sarah created A&M chemical engineering scholarships, a professorship, chair, faculty endowment and an engineering study classroom; they also co-chaired capital campaigns for St. Francis Episcopal Church and The Women’s Home in Houston. He served on industry councils and boards, as a director of the Houston branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and on boards for Hibernia Bank and Marshall National Bank. Nesbitt supported The Association of Former Students, the 12th Man Foundation and Texas A&M Foundation and was a member of the Chemical Engineering Advisory Council and A&M Legacy Society. He served on the executive committee for A&M’s “One Spirit, One Vision” capital campaign.
Since the inception of the award in 1962, only 306 of Texas A&M’s 547,000 former students have been recognized with the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Awarded jointly by Texas A&M and The Association of Former Students, this honor recognizes those Aggies who have achieved excellence in their chosen professions and made meaningful contributions to Texas A&M University and their local communities.
“As we join with The Association of Former Students in presenting the Distinguished Alumnus Award, we honor three whose lives embodied each of Texas A&M’s core values,” said Texas A&M University’s interim president, Dr. John Junkins. “Throughout their lifetimes, each of them made a lasting impact on Texas A&M, their communities and our state. They are all deserving of the highest honor bestowed upon a former student.”
Pat C. Beaird ’83, The Association of Former Students’ 2021 Chair of the Board, said, “We are grateful for the legacies created by our 2021 Distinguished Alumni. Whether in service to industry, our university or our state, their careers and lives were defined by Texas A&M’s core values of excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect and selfless service.”
Association President and CEO Porter S. Garner III ’79 echoed the sentiments of Junkins and Beaird and offered his congratulations on behalf of The Association of Former Students.
“Since the inception of the Distinguished Alumnus Award, fewer than one-tenth of one percent of Texas A&M’s 547,000 former students have been recognized as Distinguished Alumni. Our 2021 honorees join an elite and noble group who inspire us all with their service and achievements. We look forward to celebrating them and our 2020 honorees at our Distinguished Alumni Gala in October.”
The Association of Former Students will further honor all recipients of this award during its annual Distinguished Alumni Gala on Oct. 1. In addition, the 2020 and 2021 recipients will be recognized during the Oct. 2 Texas A&M football game against Mississippi State.
Nominations for the 2022 Distinguished Alumnus Award will be accepted through Oct. 1 at 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 $13.6 million in impact to university scholarships, awards, traditions and student activities and recognition for students, faculty, staff and former students in 2021. For more information about the Distinguished Alumnus Award or The Association, contact Kathryn Greenwade at KGreenwade88@aggienetwork.com or visit www.AggieNetwork.com.