Of course, while academics provide the most essential experience for students at the Bush School, it’s not all work and no play. The school has an important culture—an Aggie one, yes, but also some traditions entirely its own. One of my favorites is the student custom of rubbing President Bush’s bronze bust for good luck on exams, much like the main campus tradition of leaving pennies on Sully’s boots.
For years, Bush students have also participated in an annual softball game against members of their in-state rival school, the University of Texas’ Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. For years, the winning team claimed a stuffed likeness of Texas’ small state mammal—an armadillo. While not particularly good-looking, the “Dillo Award” (now replaced by a golden victory cup) is representative of the spirit of camaraderie that our students look to cultivate not only while on the field, but also as graduates working toward a bipartisan society. By the way, Texas A&M's Bush School has won 11 of the 18 annual games.
A Storied School
Twenty years have passed and memory fades, but I like to remind people how we got here. As President Bush sought a location for his presidential library, multiple universities bid for the opportunity. Only Texas A&M administrators and faculty cleverly recognized a core interest of the president. “Place your library on our campus,” they proposed, “and we will build adjacent to it the George Bush School of Government and Public Service.”
In their proposal to President Bush, Texas A&M officials devoted as many pages to describing a school of public service as to advancing their concept for a presidential library. In his letter choosing Texas A&M, President Bush mentioned the school as the first reason for accepting their offer. Since then, he has been a vigorous and active advocate engaging faculty and students in what he characterizes as the “noble calling” of public service. Undoubtedly, that notion of serving others—as much a part of the man as the school—will remain a distinguishing component of the Bush School’s DNA as its legacy continues.