Rhonda and Frosty Gilliam Jr. '80 have been instrumental in supporting the university's petroleum engineering and athletics programs. They received the Texas A&M Foundation's Sterling C. Evans Medal Award for 2018.
Recipients: Rhonda and Forrest “Frosty” Gilliam Jr. ’80
Professional career: Owner of Aghorn Energy Inc. and numerous other entities
Gifts through the Texas A&M Foundation: Rhonda and Frosty have provided significant financial support to the College of Engineering through the creation of a petroleum engineering professorship in memory of Frosty’s father and two petroleum engineering scholarships. The couple also made the lead gift to the Stephen A. Holditch ’69 Department Head Chair in Petroleum Engineering and funded the Brenda Bridges and Dr. Bill McCain Scholarship in Petroleum Engineering in their honor. They also made a significant contribution to the remodeling of the Clayton W. Williams, Jr. Alumni Center, home of The Association of Former Students.
A regular presence in Aggieland: The Gilliams frequently travel from their home in Odessa to support Texas A&M and attend numerous activities and sports functions. The couple serves on the Lead by Example campaign’s executive cabinet, and Frosty has served on the 12th Man Foundation Board as trustee, chair and now as immediate past chair. Rhonda and Frosty are both members of the Chancellor’s Century Council, while Frosty is a member of the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering Industry Board.
A sporting attitude: To Rhonda and Frosty, being a good steward of God’s provisions is foremost in their charitable giving; to that end, their local church and other ministries receive most of their resources. After that, the Gilliams dedicated much of their giving to Texas A&M’s athletic programs. They provided the lead gifts for the Rhonda and Frosty Gilliam Jr. ’80 Indoor Track Stadium and substantial gifts for the Rhonda and Frosty Gilliam Jr. '80 Plaza in the Cox-McFerrin Center for Aggie Basketball, the Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park baseball stadium renovation and the Rhonda and Frosty Gilliam Jr. ’80 Football Student Athlete Center in the Bright Football Complex. In addition, the couple made a significant donation to the Kyle Field renovation project as Founders.
The lure of Aggieland: Frosty grew up in a family that had split loyalties to the University of Arkansas and the University of Tennessee. “I grew up a Razorback fan,” he recalled. “My best friend in high school and his older brother went to Texas A&M, and they sparked my interest in attending.”
Engineering his path: Frosty’s father started an oil field service company right as Frosty was graduating from high school, so he enrolled in a junior college to help his father’s business. “I was initially going to major in bioengineering, but after working in the oil field with my dad, I switched to petroleum engineering,” he said. “Texas A&M had then—and continues to have now—the best petroleum engineering program, and fortunately, my timing was exceptional because it was right before the next big oil boom.” In 2009, Frosty was named to the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering’s Academy of Distinguished Graduates and in 2012, he was recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus of the College of Engineering.
Gig ’em: Frosty started Aghorn Energy with his brother, who attended The University of Texas. “Fortunately, I was the older brother and the engineer, so ‘Ag’ got to go first in our company name,” he explained with a chuckle.
Getting re-engaged with Texas A&M: “I’m the classic case of the 20-year disconnected Aggie,” Frosty said. “After graduation, I worked on my career. We didn’t go back to Texas A&M until my son was exploring colleges.” When Forrest “Matt” Gilliam III '09 enrolled in 2005, the Gilliams renewed their involvement with Texas A&M. Frosty reconnected with the petroleum engineering department, and the couple bought their first season football tickets. Rhonda, a graduate of Sam Houston State, fully immersed herself in Aggie life and became active in the Sandstorm Aggie Mom’s Club in Odessa. Their daughter, Laura—a graduate of Oregon State University—is also 100 percent Aggie when it comes to yelling for the Aggies at all Texas A&M sporting events. Rhonda and Frosty have two granddaughters, 10-year-old Jaden (Class of 2029), who loves her “Gig ’em, Aggies,” and five-month-old Faylynn (Class of 2039). A family affair: Rhonda and Frosty both expressed the same sentiment: “To us, Texas A&M is about family. Most of the events we attend are with our family and our extended family—our Aggie friends. When we give back to Texas A&M, it’s like helping our family. We wouldn’t have it any other way.”