Interview with President of A&M Black Former Students
Robert Gates has gained the respect of a broad range of people and organizations while at Texas A&M. One of those groups would be the Texas A&M Black Former Student Network, and it's president Ken Robinson. Mr. Robinson graduated from Skyline High School in Dallas, and graduated from Texas A&M in 1994. He is also founder and president of Computer Innovative Services, Inc.
Ken answered a few questions I asked him about Dr. Gates after we learned of his nomination as Secretary of Defense. As an aside, some of you may be aware of the current flap at A&M over a racist video that was posted on You Tube. Believe me I'll get to that, and so will Ken. But at the time of the interview the situation was still fluid as they say.
DSB: As President of the Texas A&M Black Former Student Network, you had regular conversations and interactions with Dr. Robert Gates, what was your impression of him?
KR: Dr. Gates is a very dynamic personality. He is the kind of leader that carries a quiet demeanor and persona, yet he gets pretty remarkable results from those he leads. He’s effective at what he does and, more importantly, he is man who I regard with high integrity.
DSB: From what you have seen, how would you describe his management style?
KR: From what I could ascertain, having interacting with him and his direct reports, he is the type of guy who gives clear instructions, sets goals, and expects results. He’s a pretty “cut and dry” kind of guy.
DSB: How would you characterize Dr. Gates' relationship like with Black faculty, staff and students at A&M, and how has he affected the climate for African-American's at the university?
KR: Without a doubt, the African-American population has benefited from Gates leadership. He’s been a pioneer at A&M in focusing on diversity and the benefits thereof for the university. Also, he’s done innovative things like implementing University Prospective Student Centers in “our” communities throughout the state to aid in college preparation and counseling. In addition, he’s been a consistent supporter of the BFSN and its programs overall. Has he done everything without any criticism? Of course not, but he has definitely done more than the majority of his predecessors. All that’s my opinion and perspective however, I’ll have to let the Black Faulty and students speak for themselves.
DSB: From the time you've spent with Gates, and what you know of his background, how do you suppose he will do as the new Secretary of Defense?
KR: I think he’ll do great. It’s probably one of the brightest moves the Bush Administration has made. He has the credentials being a Former CIA Director; and he has the respect of all the persons who know him well. Taking the position is a “no brainer”. We all fully understand the call and support him in this next chapter of his life.
DSB: What's next for Texas A&M now that Gates will be departing, and what would BFSN like to see in the next president?
KR: A&M has some BIG shoes to fill. But I am confident that the same Texas A&M Board of Regents and University Administration & Staff that brought Dr. Gates to us can find a suitable replacement. But it won’t be easy and I hope we don’t do a “rush” job. This is a critical time in the existence of Texas A&M University. I pray that we bring in leadership that will continue the efforts of Dr. Gates and not usher us into an era of regression.