From his time as a student to time in the administrative offices, Dr. Larry Boleman has spent 54 years with Texas A&M University.
As hundreds gathered Monday for a retirement reception at Kyle Field’s Lettermen’s Club honoring Boleman, Texas A&M AgriLife’s associate vice chancellor, there were all walks of life in the room – Texas cattle producers, beef industry representatives, agriculture teachers, Extension agents and specialists, university and A&M System officials – each representing a special time throughout his lengthy career.
What was fitting, perhaps most gratifying, Boleman said, was to visit with some of those same cattle producers he began to meet as a beef cattle student employee in 1964 and then those he met when he began his role as a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent in 1968 serving in Brazos and Taylor counties, and in 1975 as a beef cattle specialist for AgriLife Extension.
This will all happen as the nationally recognized Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course, a program he revitalized and coordinated for more than a decade, is held just across the street at Rudder Tower on the Texas A&M campus.
As a graduate student from 1971 to 1975, he taught beef introductory courses, coached the Texas A&M livestock judging team and did part-time beef cattle consulting for Jim and David Eller of The Granada Corp. near Bryan.
His many travels across Texas led to establishing relationships with both producers and industry representatives that expanded nationally. Those relationships and team building didn’t go without notice by A&M administration, leading him to higher roles as associate department head for animal science, assistant deputy vice chancellor for agriculture, and eventually into his current role as associate vice chancellor for strategic outreach and initiatives with Texas A&M AgriLife.
One of Boleman’s signature roles with AgriLife Extension came when he was the agency’s state beef cattle specialist in College Station. In 1990, he was tasked with revitalizing a fledgling beef cattle short course conference that was losing attendance. His first change was the date of the conference.
“And that’s when I negotiated the move to Rudder and for the even to be held in August,” Boleman said. “That was when the Rudder Complex became home to the annual beef short course. Attendance grew to more than 800 participants with that move. Today, attendance eclipses 2,500, and one of its hallmarks is the famous Fightin’ Texas Aggie Prime Rib Dinner, partially sponsored by my friends Dr. Charles Graham and Nolan Ryan.”
Looking back, Boleman said when you think you’ve taught everything there is to know about beef cattle production, the process starts all over again with a new, younger audience. “It’s a concurrent study of what you do,” he said. “You always have to stay current.”
Along the way, Boleman has found time to manage his own cattle on land in Brazos and Burnet counties. “The biggest reward was when I left a ranch or a beef cattle meeting, and they were always, always so appreciative,” Boleman said. “When I left it wasn’t like ‘that chore is over.’ It was a feeling like ‘that was so special.’
Through the application of science-based knowledge, AgriLife Extension creates high-quality, relevant continuing education that encourages lasting and effective change.