On September 30th, 1992, the Sam Houston Sanders Corps of Cadets Center opened its doors with a simple but strong mission statement: “Promote the past, preserve the present, and protect the future of the Corps of Cadets.” Thirty years later, the Corps Center continues to serve as a welcome hub for all Aggies and guests of Texas A&M.
“The Corps Center is the front door of the Corps. Every new cadet passes through this door at the start of their journey, old Ags bring their grandchildren here to show them what the Corps is, and it also gives our SEC rivals a space to come and learn more about the Corps while they visit campus for sporting events. It is a welcome center and showpiece of what the Corps has to offer,” Corps Center Director, Lieutenant Colonel (USAF, Ret.) Jeff Gardner ‘82, said of the Corps Center.
In recent years, the mission statement of the Corps Center has been modified only to encompass the promotion, preservation and protection of the entire history of Texas A&M, in addition to the Corps of Cadets. By widening the scope of the overall mission, the Corps Center has grown into a place that all visitors, regardless of whether they have any ties to the Corps, can visit and immerse themselves in the rich history of Texas A&M as a whole.
“Our goal is always to continue to evolve. We like to maintain relevancy and keep the interest of both previous, current and future generations of Aggies and cadets. There is a lot of history in this building that isn’t solely tied to the Corps. We house the oldest known original Aggie ring here. We have an extensive gun collection. We have some of the original Medals of Honor that former students have received. There’s plenty of really engaging pieces,” Gardner said.
In addition to functioning as a museum and welcome area, the Corps Center also offers several developmental opportunities for current cadets. From providing hands-on opportunities to cadets who are interested in the history of the Corps and Texas A&M, to housing all of the Corps’ recruiting initiatives, the Corps Center has plenty to offer to those seeking more out of their time as cadets.
“There are several educational opportunities available to current cadets at the Corps Center. Transfer cadets visit the Corps Center to learn more about the history of the Corps as they begin their journey. The Corps Center Guard is a special unit that allows cadets to get hands-on experience and help update the exhibits we have in the Corps Center. In addition, every recruiting event begins here. Cadets are able to give tours of the Quad to everyone from elementary school aged kids to Old Ags,” Gardner explained.
Aside from the educational opportunities that are available, two key programs for cadets in need of essential uniform pieces are also a major aspect of the Corps Center. Both specifically targeted to senior cadets, these programs allow students to check out items for use during their final year in the Corps, free of charge.
“One of the biggest things that is run out of here is our Sam Browne and saber loan programs. More donations to those programs are always needed and appreciated, as they ensure that our seniors in need are taken care of,” Gardner said.
As the Corps of Cadets begins the new March to 3,000 initiative, the need for upgraded facilities is critical. With the Corps Center recently unveiling an extensive renovation plan, the community now has the opportunity to give to a central part of the Texas A&M experience. Plans for the Corps Center include more interactive displays and many other features that will enable a more immersive experience for visitors.
“We need something that highlights Corps and the events that occur throughout the academic year. With these renovations, we hope to really catch the attention of visitors and potential cadets and show them what they could be a part of here,” Gardner said of the planned renovations.
As one of the only centers that is dedicated to the preservation and records of Texas A&M’s history and traditions, the Sam Houston Corps Center is a place for everyone – Aggies and non-Aggies alike – to appreciate the significance of Texas A&M’s contributions to our local communities, our state, and our nation.
If you are interested in supporting the Corps Center’s renovation efforts, contact the Texas A&M Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org. Every dollar counts, and goes directly towards supporting all past, present and future cadets and friends of Texas A&M.
Story By: Robin Nelson ’22