Gibb Gilchrist graduated in civil engineering from the University of Texas in 1909. After several years with the railroads, primarily the Santa Fe, and service in World War I, in 1919 he joined the Texas Highway Department as Division Engineer in San Antonio.
By 1924, he had risen to lead the Department as State Highway Engineer. For reasons of ethics and politics, he left the Department in 1925, but returned to leadership under a new Highway Commission in 1928. Under his leadership, the Department established the culture of integrity, professionalism and reward for excellence that exists today.
Mr. Gilchrist joined the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas as Dean of Engineering in 1937, later becoming President of the College. He was elected as the first Chancellor of the A&M College System in 1948, and served in this capacity until his retirement in 1953.
Together with State Highway Engineer Dewitt Greer, Mr. Gilchrist envisioned and created the cooperative research program between the A&M College and the Texas Highway Department in 1948. This visionary action, which remains the model for a state transportation research program, led to the creation of the Texas Transportation Institute in 1950.
Inducted December 2001.
Dewitt C. Greer
Dewitt C. Greer (A&M ’23), known to most as “Mr. Greer,” began his career with the Texas Highway Department in 1927. He spent the next 54 years serving that agency.
In 1940, at age 37, Mr. Greer was appointed State Highway Engineer and remained in that capacity for 27 years. He was named to the Texas Highway Commission in 1969 and served until 1981.
Under Greer, the department launched a massive program of highway development. A Farmto- Market system was built to “get Texas motorists out of the mud,” and a system of interstate highways was developed. The Texas highway system expanded from 22,207 to 72,945 miles. While viewed as a master road builder, his even greater passion was roadway safety.
Through Mr. Greer’s leadership, the department developed a strong reputation for integrity. As reported in Texas Monthly: “The special strength of the Texas Highway Department is its conscientious administrative tradition. … The man most frequently credited with developing this high standard of honesty is Dewitt Greer.”
Since Greer was known as the “King of the Highway Builders,” the headquarters building for the Texas Department of Transportation was named the Greer Building, a rare honor for a state employee.
Inducted April 2001.
Herbert D. Kelleher
Herbert D. “Herb” Kelleher co-founded Southwest Airlines in 1971. This new airline had the simple notion: If you get passengers to their destinations when they want to get there, on time, at the lowest possible fares, and make sure they have a good time doing it, people will fly your airline. Over the ensuing three decades, this airline and philosophy changed the way Texans travel and do business.
In 1978, Herb Kelleher began serving as interim president, CEO and chairman of the board, positions he would assume on a permanent basis by 1982. In 1998, Fortune Magazine named Southwest the best company to work for in America. In 1999, Herb Kelleher was named “CEO of the Year” by Chief Executive magazine and “CEO of the Century” by Texas Monthly.
Southwest began serving three Texas cities with three jets. Thirty years later, the airline was serving 58 cities in 29 states, flying 346 aircraft, and had become the fifth largest domestic carrier.
The success of Southwest Airlines is often attributed to the style of one man—Herb Kelleher. The fun-loving, team-oriented and creative corporate culture is key to this success.
Inducted June 2001.