Every March for nearly two decades, the Texas A&M University College of Science has quietly and dutifully carried out one of its most time-honored traditions, the Spring Recognition and Awards Dinner. 2015 was no exception in that regard, save for one special act befitting another who will be exceptionally hard to follow.

Per tradition, the gala event held March 26 at Pebble Creek Country Club celebrated the best and brightest among the college's former and current students. Highlighted honorees included three new Academy of Distinguished Former Students inductees, roughly 100 scholarship recipients, the many generous donors who make these gifts possible and, in a surprise turn of events, one legendary administrator who has overseen the entire process for the past 15 years as Dean of Science: Dr. H. Joseph Newton.

To commemorate Newton's selfless commitment to excellence in higher education and to faculty, staff and students in the College of Science and across Texas A&M, members of the college's External Advisory and Development Council (EADC) teamed up to raise more than $100,000 to create the Dr. H. Joseph Newton Dean's Excellence in Service to Science Award. The endowment, established through the Texas A&M Foundation, will support up to four awards each year benefiting full-time students in good standing who are pursuing degrees in the College of Science and who exhibit the same leadership skills council members say Newton has made synonymous with Texas A&M Science during his tenure as dean, which is set to conclude later this year.

About two months ago, college development officials began working in discrete tandem with key members of the EADC leadership team to help spread the word about the grassroots effort, primarily through personal telephone calls to each council member. Initially they had hoped to collect enough pledges to create an endowment, a $25,000 threshold. As the big night drew nigh, however, they realized that more than $100,000 had been raised or pledged through contributions from nearly three dozen council members and counting.

"I believe the original notion came from discussion with one of the EADC members," said Dr. John Beckerdite '76, current EACD Chair and chief technology officer for College Station-based RBC Technologies. "The council leadership discussed this and agreed to support it and move forward as our way of expressing our thanks and gratitude to Dean Newton for his tremendous contributions to the College of Science as well as for his support for the External Advisory and Development Council."

On March 26, an unsuspecting Newton opened the evening's ceremony just as he had every spring since first becoming interim dean in October 2000, then dean in July 2002: by announcing new ADFS inductees and new gifts made to the college since the previous year's event and subsequently presenting each ADFS honoree and donor with a respective plaque. When he turned the podium over to Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs Dr. Timothy P. Scott '89 for the scholarship-recipient portion of the program per tradition, he was as surprised as anyone in the room to hear Scott break from the well-established norm the two more or less had down to a science during the course of the past decade and a half.

"Well, I'm going to go off script a little bit," Scott said, as he began executing the purposeful diversion known to only a handful in the crowd. "So, Isaac Newton said, 'If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.' The giant we refer to tonight ironically enough is Dr. Joe Newton, who has provided excellence in leadership to this college for the past 15 years. His leadership is built on the principle of putting people first. Dr. Newton, you epitomize all we value at our university: excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect and selfless service."

Newton's reaction, captured in photographs and on video, was both priceless and as valuable as any past gift he has had the pleasure of unveiling during his tenure as dean.

"I'm overwhelmed by the scholarship; I'm just overwhelmed," Newton said upon returning to the podium at Scott's invitation. "I don't know what to say. I have absolutely loved being dean of the College of Science. I will miss this so much."

Touché and thank you, Dr. Newton.

Relive the big moment, courtesy of the YouTube video below, and click here to see additional photographs from the event.

To contribute to the award endowment online, visit give.am/SupportNewtonScholarship.

For additional information about endowed scholarships and awards or other giving opportunities in the College of Science, go to http://www.science.tamu.edu/giving/ or directly to the Texas A&M Foundation.

To learn more about the External Advisory and Development Council, visit http://www.science.tamu.edu/giving/eadc.php.


Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu or Dr. Timothy P. Scott, (979) 845-7352 or tim@science.tamu.edu


  • (From left:) Texas A&M Science Director of Development Michael Morelius '98, External Advisory and Development Council (EADC) Chair-Elect Ronald Abbott '88, EADC Immediate Past Chair Leslie Lenser '87, EADC Chair John Beckerdite '76 and Linda Newton join Dr. Timothy P. Scott '89 (right at podium) in congratulating newly established Excellence in Service to Science Award namesake Dr. H. Joseph Newton (holding plaque).

  • Newton receives a hug from longtime friend and EADC member James Adams '61 (above) as well as a standing ovation from the crowd (below) after making brief remarks acknowledging both his gratitude for the surprise endowment and his time as Dean of Science.

  • Newton and his wife Linda pose with the award plaque at the conclusion of an exceptionally memorable event.

© Texas A&M University. To request use of any of our photographs for educational use or to view additional options from our archive, please contact the College of Science Communications Office.

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