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Spirit is published three times per year by the Texas A&M Foundation, which manages major gifts and endowments for the benefit of academic programs, scholarships and student activities at Texas A&M University.

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Campaign Update

Faces of Philanthropy

By Molly Kulpa '15

Marketing Specialist, Texas A&M Foundation

philanthropist

noun | phi·lan·thro·pist | \ fə-ˈlan(t)-thrə-pist \

Definition: One who makes an active effort to promote human welfare; a person who practices philanthropy.
 

When you imagine a philanthropist, who do you picture? Perhaps one of the early 20th century captains of industry come to mind, like John D. Rockefeller or Andrew Carnegie. Or maybe you envision mega-rich, modern-day innovators, like Warren Buffet or Bill Gates.

In 1994, a social science study by Russ Alan Prince and Karen Maru File actually identified seven faces of philanthropy—seven types of givers. Researchers analyzed the motivations of individuals relative to their interests and support of nonprofit organizations and categorized them into these groups, defined by their attitudes, beliefs and decision-making toward giving:

  • Repayers: Believe they must do good in return
  • Investors: Believe doing good is good business
  • Socialites: Believe doing good is fun
  • Communitarians: Believe doing good makes sense
  • Devouts: Believe doing good is a moral obligation
  • Altruists: Believe doing good feels right
  • Dynasts: Believe doing good is a family tradition

Even though individual motivations for giving vary, a common desire of wanting to help people or a cause unites all philanthropists, regardless of personal wealth. In this campaign update, we interviewed seven donors from all walks of life who have supported areas of their choosing during the Lead by Example campaign.

These are a few faces of philanthropy, right here at Texas A&M.

Mary Maxwell ’04
Houston, Texas

Support to Texas A&M: Mary G. Maxwell Crew Team Endowment
 

Mary created a bequest in her will to support a cause connected to her favorite memories in Aggieland: rowing with the crew team. Her $40,000 bequest will establish the Mary G. Maxwell Crew Team Endowment after her lifetime. She hopes her gift will fund any pressing need for the team, whether that means better equipment, a stipend for the team’s coach, or even the construction of a boathouse.

I always wanted to give back to Texas A&M, so I chose to support the Crew Team because it was a big part of my college life,” Mary said. “Rowing has positively impacted me, and I hope that my contribution impacts Texas A&M’s rowing team in a positive manner.”

While Mary and her husband Clark are still in their 30s, Mary realized there was no reason to wait to start giving back. “I’m a bit of a planner,” she confessed. “I like having this sorted out now, while my husband and I are still young.”

Her parents always instilled in her the importance of serving others. “My parents are probably the best role models I could ask for. They helped their neighbors following Hurricane Harvey by raising money, picking up debris, tearing out sheetrock and housing their neighbor until her home was repaired. I can only hope to be as generous and loving as they are when I get to be their age.”

Mary Maxwell '04 created a planned gift to benefit the Texas A&M Crew Team.
Cheryl Mellenthin's gift supports the Shelter Medicine Program in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

Cheryl Mellenthin
Cat Spring, Texas

Support to Texas A&M: Mark A. Chapman Endowed Chair in Shelter Medicine
 
In 1979, Cheryl Mellenthin rescued her first abandoned dog. She has since dedicated her life to helping animals, even establishing the nonprofit Prevent Unwanted Pets to defray the costs of spaying and neutering animals. During the last 14 years, the organization has assisted more than 22,000 spay and neuter operations for dogs and cats. In 2017, Cheryl turned her focus to Texas A&M with a $1.1 million gift through her family foundation to support the shelter medicine program at the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.
 
Cheryl graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, while her late husband Mark graduated from Kansas State University before attending law school at The University of Texas. “Anyone who has graduated from a university is extremely blessed,” she said. “It seems only right to pass those blessings on to others.”
 
“Mark wasn’t rich,” Cheryl added. “He put more than $100,000 on his credit cards at 18 percent interest to get into the oil and gas business in 1987. But as he made money, he gave large amounts of it away.” In 2002, Mark established the Mark A. Chapman Foundation to benefit charitable causes. Using their foundation’s funds, the couple supported a mobile veterinary surgical unit at Kansas State University, among many other causes. After Mark passed away in 2014, Cheryl began managing his companies to continue funding the foundation.
 
“Because I wanted to help animals closer to home, I decided to help fund the spay and neuter mobile unit at Aggieland Humane Society and later, the shelter medicine position at the Texas A&M veterinary school,” she said. The Shelter Medicine Program is a partnership between the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences and the Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in which all fourth-year veterinary students must complete a two-week rotation at the Houston SPCA animal shelter. Through this real-world experience, students care for animals with various conditions and injuries and gain exposure to shelter medicine. Mellenthin’s gift will support the program’s faculty director.

Sharon Almaguer ’84
McAllen, Texas

Support to Texas A&M:  Sharon Almaguer Library Endowment
 

When Sharon Almaguer ’84 was attending law school at the University of Houston, she received a scholarship from an anonymous donor. She was struggling financially at the time, so the gift gave her an extra boost and allowed her to focus on finishing her education. “I always thought to myself, ‘When I get to a place where I can afford to give back and help others, I will do the same to pay it forward,’” she said.

When Sharon was ready to give back, she decided that creating a planned gift using her retirement account was the right method for her. A gift of retirement assets is an excellent way to make a planned gift to Texas A&M, since most people don’t use all their retirement assets during their lifetimes and gifts of retirement assets can be costly to inherit. Fortunately, gifts of retirement accounts passed to the Texas A&M Foundation are not taxed.

“As a lawyer, I was already familiar with the idea of making charitable contributions through your estate, but I was still surprised by the simplicity of the whole process,” Sharon said. Her $91,000 planned gift will benefit the Texas A&M University Libraries.

“I spent a lot of time in the libraries with friends as an undergrad at Texas A&M,” said Sharon, who studied in the business school. “I decided to support the libraries specifically because I wanted Aggie students from any major to benefit from my gift.”

In addition to paying it forward for the scholarship support she received as a law student, Sharon ultimately wanted to give back to Texas A&M simply because she’s an Aggie. “I credit a lot of who I have become to the university,” she said.

Sharon Almaguer '84 established a planned gift using her retirement account that will benefit the Texas A&M University Libraries.
Alicia and Ed Muniz '67 are passionate about supporting aerospace engineering students at Texas A&M.

Alicia and Edelmiro “Ed” Muniz ’67
Seabrook, Texas

Support to Texas A&M: Alicia and Ed ’67 Muniz Foundation Excellence Award; Alicia and Ed Muniz ’67 Aggie Sat Lab Scholarship
 

Alicia and Edelmiro “Ed” Muniz ’67 reside just outside of Houston, but they grew up in the Rio Grande valley. “We shared everything in our household growing up, even our tortillas!” Alicia laughed. The two both come from large families, so they learned the values of sharing and practicing gratitude from a young age.

Education allowed the couple to achieve success in their respective fields. Ed received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering from Texas A&M and later started his own company, Muniz Engineering (now MEI Technologies Inc.) to provide engineering and technical-related services to the U.S. government and the private sector in Houston. Alicia earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in multidisciplinary education before enjoying an 18-year teaching career.

Compelled by their strong value for higher education, the Munizes decided to give back in 2016 in the form of two scholarships: an Aggie Sat Lab Scholarship and a Foundation Excellence Award.

The Aggie Sat Scholarship supports students involved with AggieSat Lab, an aerospace engineering program that aims to develop modern technologies using a small-satellite platform. The Munizes like the idea of hands-on work, as they believe it leads to stronger graduates.

Foundation Excellence Awards recruit and retain outstanding undergraduates from historically disadvantaged groups often underrepresented in the student body. To give back to their community, the couple specified that their Foundation Excellence Award be awarded to Hispanic students who are pursuing aerospace engineering degrees and who graduated from high school in one of four Rio Grande Valley counties: Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr or Willacy. “With our gifts, we hope to encourage more minorities, especially first-generation students, to enter the aerospace engineering field,” Ed said. The Munizes have also made previous gifts to the Texas A&M Libraries for the advancement of collecting and preserving the history and literature of South Texas.

Jacqueline and Alan Mitchell ’85
New York, New York

Support to Texas A&M: Jacqueline and Alan Mitchell ’85 Aggies on Wall Street Endowed Excellence Fund

Even when far from their alma mater, Aggies continue to help other Aggies succeed. Jacqueline and Alan Mitchell ’85 of New York City share a passion for giving Aggie students an advantage—particularly for helping them get their foot in the door on Wall Street.
 
The couple established an endowment to permanently provide funding for Mays Business School’s Aggies on Wall Street Program, which provides opportunities to students interested in investment banking, including internship placement and a two-week trip to New York where they meet Wall Street professionals at leading firms. Students who successfully complete the Aggies on Wall Street program are awarded a Certificate in Investment Banking upon graduation. In addition to giving his financial resources, Alan also spends time with Mays Business Honors students to share career advice and serves on the Wall Street Advisory Board for the Department of Finance.
 
“Investment banking firms in New York tend to recruit from East Coast schools, and primarily Ivy League graduates,” Alan said. “Schools in the South just don’t carry the same name recognition when it comes to recruiting in New York, but we hope this endowed fund will expand the Aggies on Wall Street Program and boost the number of Aggie graduates working on Wall Street over time.”
 
Alan’s career in investment banking led the couple to New York City, while Jackie’s work as a natural gas trader translated well to the Wall Street atmosphere.
 
In addition to their support of Aggies on Wall Street, Jackie also serves on the Board of Trustees at The Convent of the Sacred Heart, an all-girls school that their children attend in New York City. They also support the Children’s Museum of the East End on Long Island, the East Hampton Historical Society, The Thomas Moran Trust and the Sigma Chi Fraternity. The Mitchells have also established a family foundation to be more focused with their giving and to provide a family tradition for future giving.
Through their gift to support the Aggies on Wall Street Program in Mays Business School, Jacqueline and Alan Mitchell '85 hope to see more Aggies working in high-profile finance positions.

Support the Campaign 

The Lead by Example campaign, Texas A&M University’s third comprehensive fundraising campaign, began on Jan. 1, 2012. With a goal to raise $4 billion by 2020, it is the third largest public higher education campaign in the nation and the largest ever in Texas. Donations of any size to the Texas A&M Foundation, The Association of Former Students, the 12th Man Foundation and the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation count toward the campaign total, which stands at $2.91 billion as of January 31, 2018, representing 72 percent of the goal. Learn more at leadbyexample.tamu.edu.