Past Presidents


Robert Cousins

Robert Bartow Cousins

1924-1932

R.B. Cousins was the first president of South Texas State Teachers College. Cousins was born in Georgia and died while president in 1932. He received his doctoral degree from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas in 1930. Prior to accepting the position in Kingsville, he was state superintendent for public institutions and president of West Texas State Normal School. Under Cousins’ presidency, the school changed its name to Texas College of Arts and Industries. Cousins Hall was named for him. In addition to serving as the institution’s first president, Cousins is the central figure in another notable part of Javelina history. As president he was attacked by a javelina while walking through the campus pastures in 1929. He endured bites, gores and rabies treatment. When some suggested a new mascot be selected because of the incident, Cousins insisted the javelina remain as the symbol of the university.

Edwin Seal

Edward Wynn Seale

1932-1934

Edward Wynn Seale was born in Floresville, Texas. He received his education degree at The University of Texas at Austin. He was once superintendent of the Robstown schools and held several positions in the Corpus Christi school district. Robstown currently has a campus named after the college’s second president. Seale died while in office. Seale Hall was named in his honor.

James Otis Loftin

James Otis Loftin

1934-1941

James Otis Loftin was president of the Texas State Teachers Association and principal of Lanier Junior-Senior School when he accepted the position of president of Texas College of Arts and Industries. Loftin, an alumnus, received his bachelor’s degree when the school was still South Texas State Teachers College. He received his master’s degree from Colorado State Teachers College. The building that now houses the John E. Conner Museum was named for Loftin.

Edward Newlon Jones

Edward Newlon Jones

1942-1948

Dr. Edward Newlon Jones was born in Kansas. Jones Auditorium bears the name of this former president. He was head of the botany department and dean at Baylor University before taking the position of president of Texas College of Arts and Industries. Jones received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kansas.

Ernest H. Poteet

Ernest H. Poteet

1948-1962

Dr. Ernest H. Poteet was born in Boyd, Texas. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry from Baylor University. He worked toward his doctoral degree, but did not receive it until Baylor gave him an honorary doctoral degree in 1949. Poteet was the longest serving president in the university’s history. Poteet Hall, which currently houses Academy High School, bears his name.

James C. Jernigan

James C. Jernigan

1962-1973

Dr. James C. Jernigan was born in Van Alstyne, Texas. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from North Texas State University and his doctorate from University of Chicago. Jernigan served in World War II and then came to teach at Texas College of Arts and Industries. During Jernigan’s tenure, the school grew from a college to a university and changed its name to Texas A&I University. On May 5, 1972, Jernigan was unanimously named chancellor of the Texas A&I University System. He retired in 1975 and he died in 1996. The Jernigan Library bears his name.

Gerald B. Robins

Gerald B. Robins

1973-1977

Dr. Gerald B. Robins was born in Salem, Arkansas. After he left the presidency, he remained at the university as a professor in the education department before retiring in 1989. Prior to serving as president of Texas A&I University, Robins was professor of higher education at University of Georgia at Athens. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at University of Arkansas and his doctorate from the University of Georgia.

Duane M. Leach

Duane M. Leach

1977-1980

Dr. Duane M. Leach received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of South Dakota and his doctorate from University of Oklahoma. All of his degrees are in history and political science. Leach was formerly president of Northern Montana College where he also served as professor of history. He was the chancellor of the University System of South Texas from 1980 to 1983. He was a trustee for the Caesar Kleberg Foundation for Wildlife Conservation and he was executive director of the John Ben Sheppard Public Leadership Institute at University of Texas-Permian Basin.

Billy J. Franklin

Billy J. Franklin

1981-1984

Dr. Billy Joe “Bill” Franklin was a sociology professor who received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Texas at Austin. He previously worked at Stephen F. Austin State University and left Texas A&I University to work at Lamar University. He also worked as a lobbyist in Austin.

Steven Altman

Steven Altman

1985-1989

During the term of Dr. Steven Altman, Texas A&I University became part of the Texas A&M University System. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of California at Los Angeles and his doctorate from University of Southern California. Before coming to Texas A&I, Altman was provost and vice president for academic affairs at Florida International University. While president in Kingsville, he was listed in Who’s Who in the South and Southwest in 1985 and 1987 and Who’s Who in America in 1984 and 1986. He left Texas to serve as president at the University of Central Florida.

Manuel Ibanez

Manuel Ibáñez

1989-1998

Dr. Manuel L. Ibáñez is a native of Worcester, Massachusetts. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Wilmington College in Ohio and his master’s and doctoral degrees in bacteriology and biochemistry from Pennsylvania State University. He taught at Bucknell University and at University of New Orleans, where he also served as chair of the biology department, associate dean of the graduate school, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost. He became a Regent of the Smithsonian Institution in 1994. After serving as president, Ibáñez remained at Texas A&M-Kingsville in the biology department serving as Distinguished Professor for several years. During his tenure, the name of the school was changed to Texas A&M University-Kingsville.

Marc Cisneros

Marc Cisneros

1998-2001

Marc Cisneros grew up in Premont and was active in ranching and FFA. He earned a bachelor’s degree from St. Mary’s University and a master’s degree from Shippensberg State College. He was an ROTC Distinguished Military Graduate who was commissioned as an officer in the field artillery in 1961. He served three combat tours, two in Vietnam and one in Panama where he was recognized for helping to capture military ruler Gen. Manuel Noriega. He was twice awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and also received the Combat Infantry Badge. His last assignment as a soldier was Commanding General, 5 th U.S. Army in San Antonio. He is the former chief executive officer of the John G. and Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial Foundation.

Rumaldo Juarez

Rumaldo Juarez

2002-2008

Dr. Rumaldo Juarez, a native of Robstown, served as dean and professor in the College of Health Professions at Southwest Texas State University prior to taking the helm at Texas A&M-Kingsville. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Texas A&M University and his doctorate from Penn State University. He was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army Medical Service Corp and is a Vietnam veteran. Upon leaving his post as president, Juarez joined the faculty as professor in the psychology and sociology department. Currently, he is a past president of the Robstown Economic Development Commission and the Robstown Area Historical Museum.

Steven H. Tallant

Steven H. Tallant

2008-2018

Dr. Steven H. Tallant, the third-longest serving president, came to Texas A&M-Kingsville from University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire where he served as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. Before retiring after 20 years of active service with the military, Tallant was chief of Air Force Family Research at the Pentagon. Under Tallant’s leadership, the university experienced a surge in enrollment, increased campus construction and renovations and expanded academic offerings. Tallant retired in December 2018.