Interview with Texas A&M University-Commerce Alumnus John Adams

Brandon Ballard, Staff Reporter

John Adams attended East Texas State University throughout the 1950s and 1960s before having a successful career as an engineer at TEMCO or what is now called L3Harris in Greenville. Adams was raised, attended high school and college, and raised his own kids in the town of Commerce. Adams has resided in Commerce and has seen many changes happen to the University as well as the town. Adams sat down to discuss his time in Commerce as well as his thoughts on TAMUC.

How long have you lived in Commerce?

Adams: I’m 82 now, I spent three years in Greenville after Kaye and I married and then I spent basically two years in the army, so almost all of my life apart from those five years. When I got out of the army, we decided Commerce was a better place to raise kids than Greenville so we settled down here.

What years did you attend Texas A&M Commerce or East Texas State University?

Adams: Originally, I started here in 1954 when I was 16, but I think 16 is too young to be making lifelong decisions about your future so I ended up dropping out in 1955. I went to work out at TEMCO in Greenville in 1956 but I eventually got to a point where I was needing a degree in order to advance in my career. I ended up coming back in 1965 when I was 28 years old to get my degree in mathematics. When I went here, they didn’t have an engineering program, so mathematics was the only degree that I could get that pertained to my career.

How much did it cost to attend college when you went compared to now?

Adams: When I started originally in 1954 the tuition cost $25 per semester. The activity fee which covered admission to the football games and basketball games and things like that cost $19.75. I had 20 bucks left to buy books and I bought all my books for five courses with that.

What were some of the major challenges facing Commerce when you attended College here?

Adams: I was 28 when I started back full time. When I enrolled in 1965 the school was in the middle of integration. I grew up in a town where segregation was like it used to be, you know, we had a black school down in the area where they used to live, and when we integrated, we were fortunate because there were some great black leaders such as police, principals, teachers and coaches to help facilitate the change.

What are some of the changes you’ve noticed in the University since you attended here?

Adams: The facilities have been improved, things like flower gardens, trees, shrubbery and new buildings, and I understand now they have some kind of engineering program. When I went to school out here, I was actively working in an engineering department, in fact I was classified as a senior engineer, but they had no engineering courses so my major was mathematics. They have built a lot of new buildings. Since the board of regents from Texas A&M have taken over the improvements have been great.

Being a resident of Commerce, what do you think the overall view of the university is amongst other residents of Commerce?

Adams: Well, I’m not in the main stream anymore with activities that are going on, but at one time when I was the president of the school board for one term, there was animosity between some of the school people and the university, which I think was dumb, I don’t think it’s like that anymore though. I can tell you that some of our town’s fathers back in times gone by didn’t want the town to grow, and I can’t really tell you what the reason for that is.

What are your feelings about Texas A&M University of Commerce as you see it today?

Adams: I’ve watched the university grow; the campus has changed entirely. Personally, I think growth is great, I don’t think every kid needs to go to college, but I think it’s great to have it for the people who want to go.