A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS
By Dominic Hernandez '15
How much is a penny worth? The obvious answer is one cent, but ask any studious, stressed and possibly sleep-deprived Aggie, and they’ll say a penny can be worth more than its weight in gold. In Aggieland, it is tradition to drop a penny at the foot of Lawrence Sullivan Ross’, or "Sully’s," statue before tests, serving as a good luck charm for hopeful students.
"I have put pennies on Sully before tests many times," said business major Jordyn Smith '16. "I've seen a cardboard 'Gig 'em', dollar bills, IOUs, and other stuff just covered in pennies."
Lawrence Sullivan Ross was born in the Republic of Texas, and grew up in Waco, which was founded by his family. Ross served as the governor of Texas from 1887 to 1891, but when he learned that the Agricultural & Mechanical College of Texas (now Texas A&M) was struggling to stay open and in need of a new president, he jumped at the opportunity.
Ross's statue is located in the heart of campus in Academic Plaza. In addition to being known as a great mentor to all of his students, Ross is credited with helping to save the university from closing and starting many traditions such as the formation of the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band and the Aggie Ring. According to folklore, Ross held tutoring sessions for each of his students and charged them 'a penny for their thoughts.'
Ross and the penny tradition are a big part of Aggieland. In Pixar’s Monster’s Inc., the main character, Sully, was named after Ross by one of the animators who went to Texas A&M. There are also rumors that the Academic Plaza was the inspiration for the campus in Monster’s University.
Today, it is not uncommon to see student organizations out in front of Sully during finals week giving out free pennies to students on their way to take tests. During test weeks, you will find a wide variety of penny constructs—Kyle Field reproductions, messages spelled out in pennies and penny towers. So, if you happen to find yourself in Academic Plaza, on the way to an exam, be sure give Ol' Sully a visit and leave some loose change. It could be all the luck you need.