Colton Buckley’s rise to TAMUS student regent position an unusual one
By Bethann Coldiron–
Colton Buckley’s journey from being a relatively unknown Tarleton student to being named Tarleton’s first ever student regent was full of ambition, politics and friends in high places. Buckley’s name did not show up on Chancellor John Sharp’s list of recommendations, but Governor Perry appointed Buckley anyway. “My life has been dedicated, for the most part to making the lives of others better,” said Buckley, the Texas A&M University system Student Regent, in an interview with Texan TV News.
Buckley is a 20-year-old sophomore from Gatesville pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Services and Development with a minor in Political Science. He is a clean-cut young man who goes to class wearing button-down shirts, starched blue jeans and round-toe cowboy boots. His sandy blond hair is combed over to the side, with a little gel to keep it in place. He keeps two cell phones in his pocket, and he is rarely without his briefcase. He showed up to the TV interview wearing custom-made boots.
“These were custom hand done by a fifth generation Texas boot company. They have the Texas A&M seal in gold, and the piping is in purple to represent Tarleton,” he said. Pinned on his lapel jacket is the Tarleton seal in gold.
Buckley’s resume states he was one of the founding members and a chairman of the Young Conservatives of
Texas, Tarleton chapter, a Student Government representative, and a member of the fraternal American Boys Legion. He has also worked on a number of political campaigns, most notably former State Rep. Sid Miller’s successful campaign for the Republican nomination for Texas Agricultural Commissioner.
Buckley is the first-ever student from Tarleton to be named Student Regent in the Texas A&M University System, appointed by Gov. Perry on April 22. He started fulfilling his duties as Student Regent in June. Despite being only a sophomore transfer student and despite applying for the position during his first semester at Tarleton on Nov. 8, 2013, he was appointed to the position over other students from the 11 schools that make up the Texas A&M system.
“My position on the board is to be the sole voice, advocate and representation of over 131,000 students across the great state of Texas,” he said. “I’m honored and privileged to be appointed by the governor.”
How did such a young student, who only attended a TAMUS school for one semester, get the coveted position of Student Regent? Buckley has close political ties to Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and Sid Miller. All three men wrote letters of recommendation for Buckley in his original application for Student Regent with Tarleton.
“I think what helped my application over others [was that] I had a lot of state-wide elected officials that are Aggies, nearly every statewide office holder who you can think of and a few members of Congress support me being appointed,” he said.
According to documents obtained through the Texas Public Information Act, Buckley applied for the position first with Tarleton State University, along with Brendan Sar and Adam Barnes. When asked to explain the process of how Student Regents are selected, he said, “Each university can select up to five [students], then to move over to the chancellor’s office, so we have 11 universities, so that’s up to 55 applicants a year that can be selected… But the guidelines state that you’re supposed to apply through your school. Your school then selects the top five, forwards those to the Chancellor’s office, John Sharp in College Station; he will then select two or more and forward those to the Govenor’s office.”
However, Buckley was not on the list of names of the students that Sharp submitted to Perry on Jan. 27 of this year. The three students that Sharp submitted for review didn’t even go to Tarleton. The students included in Chancellor Sharp’s recommendation to the governor were Andres N. Holliday Jr. from Texas A&M University San Antonio; Chelsea Jane Nkrumah from Texas A&M University Kingsville; and Jill P. Mobley from Texas A&M University-Commerce.
Included in his application was an essay Buckley wrote in which he was asked to express why he wanted to be regent. In a four-sentence paragraph, Buckley explained that he wants to serve as an “outreach to rural Texas areas that are distanced from [the] main campus.”
In the Texan TV News interview, Buckley said he wants to be an advocate for “folks who are busy taking care of their families, getting an education, and working hard to pay their taxes… There’s this other side of life to make sure your government is reined in, to make sure that your public officials are working hard to work for you and not for special interests and not for personal interests. Wanting to be Student Regent, my whole idea is to make sure that students [have an] advocate…”
Watch for the second half of this story on Texan News and listen to the interview on the Cross Currents Radio Show.