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President's Letter

Hail and Farewell

By Ed Davis '67

Former President, Texas A&M Foundation
President Ed Davis '67

Twenty-two years ago, I made the second best decision of my life. (Of course, marrying Jo Ann takes the top spot.) On August 2, 1993, I was appointed president of the Texas A&M University Development Foundation. After I determined that you couldn’t fit the organization’s name on a check—a rather debilitating problem for a fundraising organization—we shortened the name to Texas A&M Foundation.

I can only describe this experience of supporting our alma mater through philanthropy as magnificent. It has given me the great honor of associating with the best people in the world, including extraordinary trustees, an extremely talented and devoted staff, amazingly generous donors and friends, and an array of university leaders and faculty who, each in their own way, have wanted the best for this special place.

They say all good things must come to an end. Perhaps. But—mark my words—the good that the Foundation does for Texas A&M is only beginning. To ensure that progress continues as it should, it’s time for me to pass the presidency to a new leader. I’ll work closely with our trustees as they identify the best candidates with the help of a national search firm, targeting January 2016 for the transition.

My departure will be bittersweet. This work is so psychically rewarding that it seems I should be able to continue forever. Father Time, however, disagrees. But the thousands of donors who have given sacrificially during my time leave me confident that Texas A&M will be well cared for.

For example, 20 years ago I asked Jon Hagler ’58 to help me modernize the Foundation’s endowment portfolio. During a meeting, I described an investment I thought we should make in a physical presence for the Foundation on campus. Jon came to me after that meeting and told me he wanted to help build the Foundation’s portfolio—and that building: the Hagler Center. Jon has continued to give through his contributions to Vision 2020, multiple Foundation Excellence Awards and many other gifts, always to invest in and build Texas A&M. He, along with all of you, remains my hero.

I plan to stay on for a while in a principal gifts role to ensure that the Lead by Example campaign—Texas A&M’s third comprehensive fundraising campaign and among the largest in the nation—establishes a solid footing. Extending my stay for a bit will also give me the opportunity to wrap up outstanding gift plans already in the works by many old friends so their dreams for Texas A&M will be fulfilled.

After that, it’s more time for Jo Momma and the grandkids, friends, Aggie students, a few places in the world unexplored and sharpening my golf game. I won’t play every day…the course is closed on Mondays. Not sure I’ll write “the book.” For many of you, I will take modest bribes to ensure your stories are never told. For the most part, I’ll be around, and advice and counsel will be available and cheap.

I’ve always thought true Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s poignant words in his last speech to the cadets at West Point: “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.”

Per Unitatem Vis.

Years in Review

  • Holiday Cheer

    Jo Ann and Ed Davis ’67 at the Foundation's 2013 holiday party.
  • Remarkable Vision

    “Ed Davis is probably the best leader I've had the privilege to work with during my career. He casts remarkable visions and then inspires those around him to go the extra mile to make those visions reality.”
    —Kathy McCoy ’80, assistant vice president for marketing
  • Middle East Meeting

    Ed Davis ’67 meets with Yousef Hussain Kamal, a Qatari politician and businessman who served as the country’s economy and finance minister from 1998 to 2013.
  • A Rewarding Career

    “In 2008, Dr. Davis asked me to serve as adviser to the Maroon Coats, the most rewarding part of my 15-year career at the Foundation. I feel lucky that he entrusted its care to me, and I intend to make him proud by carrying on his vision for the organization.”
    —Shannon Zwernemann ’03, donor relations coordinator
  • University Leaders

    Jo Ann and Ed Davis ’67 with Texas A&M University Chancellor John Sharp ’72.
  • Planned Giving Success

    “Dr. Davis enjoys seeing people succeed. The growth of the Foundation's planned giving office is the culmination of a number of thoughtful decisions by Dr. Davis and other leadership. Because of their direction and our loyal donors, many planned giving goals have been exceeded.”
    —Glenn Pittsford ’72, vice president for gift planning
  • Good Advice

    “During our first staff retreat, Dr. Davis told everyone that he would guide us, but he could also act as a referee by wearing his ‘striped shirt’ and name a winner and a loser. It was a metaphor to tell us that we should work out differences among ourselves. It helped us come together as a team.”
    —Ann Lovett ’81, director of gift processing
  • A Good Sport

    “Historically Dr. Davis has had a backache prior to major events—or at least he claims he does! At the One Spirit One Vision campaign finale celebration in 2007, we had him do a routine with the Aggie Dance Team. He was a real sport about it! Oddly enough, he didn’t complain about his back at all!”
    —Lynn Harris, donor relations manager
  • Joint Tailgate

    Ed Davis ’67 with (from left) 12th Man Foundation President Skip Wagner, former university President R. Bowen Loftin ’71 and Porter Garner III ’79, president of The Association of Former Students, at the 2013 Joint Tailgate.
  • Time to Celebrate

    At a quarterly meeting in 2010, Texas A&M Foundation staff celebrate a growth in contributions.
  • Taking a Chance

    “As someone with no prior development experience, I will always be appreciative of Dr. Davis for taking a chance on me when I first interviewed with him in 2004. Over the past 10 years, he has provided valuable leadership, knowledge and a friendship that will last beyond our time together at the Foundation.”
    —Brian Bishop ’91, senior director of development
  • Solid Character

    “I've worked as Dr. Davis’ executive assistant for the past 15 years, and I've witnessed firsthand his gift of leading others with solid character and integrity. I’m thankful for the opportunities he has given me. Best wishes to Dr. Davis and Jo Ann as they begin their exciting adventure in retirement.”
    —Toni Waters Dowling ’92, executive administrative assistant
  • An Eye for Talent

    “Two great things about Ed: he seldom misses an opportunity to recognize members of our team, and he has personally interviewed every employee we’ve hired during his tenure. He has a great eye for talent and fit. This may be his most significant contribution to the Foundation’s success.”
    —Carl Jaedicke ’73, vice president for principal gifts
  • Superior Leadership

    “Ed could be CEO of any Fortune 500 company. He’s incredibly intelligent with superb judgment and people skills. He has respect from former students and peers in the university fundraising field, and there is high morale among his employees because of his superior leadership.”
    —Richard Kardys ’67, former Texas A&M Foundation trustee
  • Instilling a Culture

    “Ed has instilled a culture through his leadership and management style. That culture means hiring the right people and then letting them do their jobs. It means continuous improvement in all areas of the Foundation. He will be greatly missed, but his legacy with the Foundation is firmly in place.”
    —David Hicks ’75, vice president for college programs
  • Always An Aggie

    Ed Davis ’67 participates in the Aggie war hymn alongside former university President Elsa Murano and Foundation Maroon Coats at the 2008 President’s Endowed Scholarship reception
  • Good Times

    “In 1998, Ed invited me and my wife to join him and Jo Ann for the Big 12 Football Championship. Kansas State was the favored team, but the Aggies won 36-33 in a double overtime victory. We all went crazy! It was a great evening to be an Aggie in St. Louis, and we felt honored and privileged to experience it with Ed and Jo Ann.”
    —Van H. Taylor ’71, Foundation trustee
  • Lessons Learned

    “In 2008, I was tasked by Dr. Davis to lead the Maroon Coats. He said that successful organizations reflect all of their members. While it’s easy to impose ideas on others, only through trust are you capable of building something great. His advice has influenced me greatly.”
    —Michael Schramm ’08, first Maroon Coats president
  • A New Era

    Ed Davis '67 at the Foundation's 2015 Legacy Society event with President Michael K. Young, his wife Marti and Foundation Maroon Coats.