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Distinguished Alumnus

Texas A&M University and The Association of Former Students have announced the recipients of the 2017 Distinguished Alumnus Award, and among them are four graduates of the Texas A&M College of Engineering:

• John M. Yantis, industrial technology, Class of 1953, of San Antonio, Texas;

• Ed Wulfe, mechanical engineering, Class of 1955, of Houston, Texas;

• General (Ret.) William M. Fraser III, engineering technology, Class of 1974;

• Craig Brown, civil engineering, Class of 1975, of Houston, Texas.

John M. Yantis '53

In 1965, Yantis founded what is today the $70-million-per-year construction firm Yantis Co., of which he served as chairman. He was named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 1988, and the company is a multiple-year honoree of the Aggie 100 list of fastest-growing businesses. He is deeply involved in philanthropy and service both in San Antonio, where he served on the board of directors for Boysville (1980-84), and at Texas A&M, where he created a Regents Scholars Student Assistance Endowment Fund through The Association of Former Students. He also served on the Chancellor’s Century Council and the 12th Man Foundation’s board and Champions Council. He was chairman of the 2007 Valero Alamo Bowl and has served on the board of Associated General Contractors and as president of Oak Hills Country Club, former home of the Valero Texas Open golf tournament, in both 1990 and 1999.

Ed Wulfe '55

Wulfe is chairman, CEO and founder of the Wulfe & Co. commercial real estate brokerage, development and property management firm. Among properties he has developed, BLVD Place won a 2015 Houston Business Journal Landmark Award; redeveloped Meyerland Place was honored with “Deals That Make a Difference” in 1995 and 1996; and Gulfgate Center won the Houston Chapter of the Urban Land Institute’s 2012 Development of Distinction Award and Best Rehabilitation Renovation Project in 2003. He currently serves as a guest on Texas A&M’s Master of Real Estate Advisory Board, has been a lecturer for MBA students and created an endowed scholarship in the Mays Business School, and contributed an auditorium to the Texas A&M Hillel Building. He has chaired Houston Mayor’s Main Street Coalition and chaired a referendum to expand Houston’s light rail and transit systems (2003) and $100 million parks bond issue campaign (2012).

General (Ret.) William M. Fraser III '74

Fraser served as the commander of U.S. Transportation Command, the single manager responsible for global air, land and maritime transport for the Department of Defense, from October 2011 to May 2014; commander of Air Combat Command from September 2009 to September 2011; vice chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force from October 2008 to September 2009; and assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from May 2006 to October 2008. His experience in wartime, contingency and humanitarian relief operations includes Operations Southern and Northern Watch, Desert Thunder, Allied Force, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. He serves on boards of visitors for the Corps and Texas A&M University at Galveston. He chairs the Military Child Education Coalition, serving all military-connected children, and is a member of Mission Readiness – Council for a Strong America, which serves U.S. youth.

Craig Brown '75

Brown co-founded Bray International, a global manufacturer of rotary valves and actuators, and is owner, CEO and chairman. Since 1989, he has been chairman and co-founder of the Craig and Galen Brown Foundation, which recruits top students to Texas A&M, including National Merit Scholars. In the past 25 years, more than 300 students have come to Texas A&M as Brown Foundation Scholars, including 200 engineers and 40 doctors and veterinarians. He has served on the College of Engineering Advisory Council for more than 25 years and has been on the Corps of Cadets Board of Visitors and a member of the executive cabinet for the “Lead By Example” capital campaign. He has been named an Outstanding Young Houstonian, an Outstanding Alumnus of Texas A&M’s College of Engineering and an Outstanding Alumnus of the Mays Business School. He has worked with KIPP public charter schools and Bo’s Place, a Houston-based nonprofit bereavement center.

Since the inception of the award in 1962, only 271 of Texas A&M’s 469,000 former students have been recognized with the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Awarded jointly by the university and The Association, this honor recognizes Aggies who have achieved excellence in their chosen professions and made meaningful contributions to Texas A&M and their local communities.

“The 2017 Distinguished Alumni demonstrate the impact Texas A&M has on the state, nation and world,” said Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young. “This group includes incredible leaders and influencers in the fields of engineering, construction, real estate, international and national defense, law, finance, education and philanthropy. Their stories truly display the power of a Texas A&M University education.”

The recipients learned of their honor when surprised in their places of business and other locations by a group of university and Association representatives, including Young, The Association of Former Students’ 2017 Chair of the Board of Directors Phil Miner ’80, Association President and CEO Porter S. Garner III ’79, Texas A&M Foundation President Tyson Voelkel ’96, and a Ross Volunteer, along with university mascot Reveille IX and her handler.

Miner said, “Our 2017 Distinguished Alumni have achieved the highest levels of success in their professions and have made a lasting impact on their communities and Texas A&M through their service. They bring our Texas A&M core values of excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect and selfless service to life.”

Garner echoed the sentiments of Young and Miner and offered his congratulations on behalf of The Association of Former Students. “Less than one-tenth of one percent of Texas A&M’s former students have been recognized with the Distinguished Alumnus Award,” Garner said. “It is, indeed, the highest honor bestowed upon a former student of Texas A&M, and our 2017 recipients have earned this honor through their exemplary achievements and service to Texas A&M.”