Gates was the interim Dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University from 1999 to 2001. On August 1, 2002, he became the 22nd President of Texas A&M. As the university president, Gates made progress in four key areas of the university’s “Vision 2020” plan, a plan to become one of the top 10 public universities by the year 2020. The four key areas include improving student diversity, increasing the size of the faculty, building new academic facilities, and enriching the undergraduate and graduate education experience. During his tenure, Gates encouraged the addition of 440 new faculty positions and a $300 million campus construction program, and saw increases in minority enrollment. On February 2, 2007, Gates was conferred the title of President Emeritus by unanimous vote of the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents. Gates and his wife Becky received honorary doctoral degrees from Texas A&M on August 10, 2007.
The Robert Gates-Muller Family Outstanding Student Award was established in 2007 through a gift from the Muller family of Galveston to provide public recognition to an outstanding senior graduating from Texas A&M who has demonstrated those qualities of leadership, patriotism, courage, and service to country, school, and nation so clearly exemplified by Robert M. Gates. Dr. Gates served as president of Texas A&M university from 2002 until 2006, when he was named U.S. Secretary of Defense.
- Have completed not less than one-half of his/her degree requirements while enrolled at Texas A&M University.
- Rank academically in the upper one-third of his/her class at the end of his/her undergraduate curriculum.
- Be a candidate for a baccalaureate degree at the end of the spring semester or during the preceding 12-month period in which the award is presented.