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@txamfoundation: Foundation News

Mark Browning '88

Gifts From Within

This is the fifth in a series of articles on Texas A&M Foundation employees who are committed to giving back to Texas A&M.

Mark Browning ’88 practices what he preaches: In 2010, the gift planning officer created his own $100,000 planned gift of life insurance to fund scholarships for finance majors in Mays Business School.

“I was a scholarship recipient myself,” Browning said. “My ultimate goal is to remove the financial stress from another Aggie like someone did for me.”

After receiving a business administration degree, Browning held several bank positions before beginning a career at Texas State Bank in 2000, where he climbed from portfolio manager to executive vice president.

He joined the Foundation staff in 2010 and is responsible for assisting donors as they establish planned gifts. “I feel accomplished every day, because I know that gifts I help donors create will benefit Texas A&M long after I’m gone,” he said.

Life insurance gifts are ideal for younger donors who are building their estates but wish to make a gift early in life. The policyholder can leverage premiums to create a much larger gift and may also receive a charitable tax deduction depending on the gift’s structure.

Browning intends for his scholarship to support finance students from Jefferson, Hidalgo or Brazos counties in Texas. “My Texas A&M finance degree was crucial to my success,” he said. “By establishing a planned gift, I can give that opportunity to another Aggie.”

Lead by Example Campaign Launches

Texas A&M University announced the launch of a $4 billion comprehensive campaign in November. Lead by Example, the largest fundraising endeavor ever undertaken by Texas A&M and the second largest ever announced by a public university, seeks to provide adequate resources to help address major societal challenges facing the state, nation and world. Campaign officials estimate that about 85 percent of the donor-directed campaign funds will benefit academics and research, while the remainder will fund athletics. As of press time, $2 billion was raised toward the $4 billion goal.

In conjunction with the campaign’s announcement, all 102,154 fans in attendance at the Texas A&M vs. Auburn University football game on Nov. 7 participated in the world’s largest stadium card stunt, which revealed campaign messaging.

Foundation Announces Faculty Award

In February, the Texas A&M Foundation recognized John Junkins, regents’ professor and distinguished professor of aerospace engineering, as its first Partner in Philanthropy Faculty Award recipient.

The new award recognizes a faculty member who provides dedicated and lasting participation, commitment and creative leadership to philanthropy benefiting Texas A&M. Because of his efforts to build long-term relationships between the university, former students and other private partners in philanthropy, Junkins was presented a $10,000 cash award to support his academic pursuits.

As founding director of the Texas A&M University Institute for Advanced Study (TIAS), Junkins has developed philanthropic partnerships with potential donors to the institute and demonstrated a deep understanding of the value of private support. In 2012, he and his wife Elouise also gave a $2 million planned gift to establish an aerospace engineering faculty chair and a $1 million planned gift to fund a TIAS chair.

Junkins also directs the Land, Air and Space Robotics Laboratory at the university. As holder of the Royce E. Wisenbaker Class of ’39 Chair in Innovation, he has witnessed firsthand how an endowed chair can impact research and students.

“As Elouise and I reflected on how fortunate we have been to work here three decades, we decided that it was high time for us to make decisions about our own estate,” said Junkins.

For the couple, faculty giving is a tangible means of investing in and showing commitment to education. “When faculty make gifts, it strikes a powerful cord and can motivate other donors to give, because it proves that our faculty are willing to help move the university to the next level,” said Junkins.

Backing the Brazos Valley

For the sixth consecutive year, 100 percent of Texas A&M Foundation employees participated in a United Way campaign to give back to the Brazos Valley Community, raising more than $11,000 for local initiatives.

In a separate competition to raise food and monetary donations for the Brazos Valley Food Bank’s Food for Families drive, Foundation teams brought in 400 non-perishable food items for families in need and raised $325. 

Employees delivered, sorted and packed food during the annual drive in December. Former Foundation President Ed Davis ’67 recognized the achievement by allowing employees to wear blue jeans every Friday through the end of 2015 and authorizing an extra half-day holiday.