Feature Stories

Campaign Update

Future Focused

Future Focused

During the last seven years of the university’s $4 billion Lead by Example campaign, the Texas A&M Foundation has received 999 planned gifts totaling more than $830 million. Each of these gifts, which range from the relatively straightforward bequest to the more advanced charitable remainder trust, is unique to the donor and, importantly, suited to their specific financial needs and personal interests.

Simply put, the impact of planned gifts to the campaign—and to Texas A&M’s future—cannot be understated. The current campaign total stands at $3.42 billion as of March 1, 2019, with planned gifts accounting for 24 percent of that total. By committing planned gifts, donors are creating ways to provide for loved ones, receive tax benefits, generate potential retirement income and support Texas A&M, all at the same time.

These seven donor testimonials and the accompanying information are intended to showcase the power of planned giving along with the many ways you can give after-lifetime gifts. As you read the following stories, the message that we hope resonates is that gift planning is an easy and deeply rewarding way to act on the part of Texas A&M that is part of you. You can direct your generosity with a sense of joy and achievement, secure in the knowledge that generations of Aggies will benefit and that your generosity will last forever. You can use your gift to sustain certain programs or facilities, establish endowments or launch major new initiatives.  

2012: Millers’ Gift Benefits Petroleum Engineering

Type of Gift: Life insurance
Method: Designate the Foundation as owner and beneficiary of a new or existing life insurance policy.
Benefits: Support Texas A&M without using today’s dollars.
Marilyn and Steve Miller '79 named the Texas A&M Foundation as owner and beneficiary of their life insurance policy to create an endowment benefiting petroleum engineering after their lifetimes.
For Marilyn and Steve Miller ’79, a gift of life insurance provided a simple method to give back to Texas A&M. The couple purchased a new life insurance policy at a fraction of the cost of its future $1 million payout and named the Texas A&M Foundation as owner and beneficiary, laying the groundwork for an endowment that will be created after their lifetimes.

“We want to help students who are hard-working and deserving,” Steve said. Their endowment will support educational programs within the petroleum engineering department and establish a memorial scholarship for petroleum majors in honor of one of Steve’s mentors: the late William D. Von Gonten, former petroleum engineering department head. During his undergraduate years, while struggling academically, Von Gonten encouraged Steve. “He told me I needed to buckle down, apply myself and live up to my potential,” Steve said. “My grades weren’t great, but he believed I could do better. And I did!

“If gifts like these are appropriate for your budget, it’s a unique and easy way to give back,” he added. “We hope the gift provides support and encouragement for students down the road.”

2013: "Aggie Bob" Gives Back to the Corps of Cadets

Type of Gift: Charitable gift annuity
Method: Make a gift of cash or securities and receive a fixed annual payment in return.
Benefits: Receive fixed payments for life and an immediate charitable deduction; a portion of your payments will be tax-free.
The late Marijo and Bob English '46 created a charitable gift annuity to benefit the Corps of Cadets.

After graduating from Texas A&M University, the late Bob English ’46 started a business selling car batteries before eventually transitioning into automotive paints. When his business encountered trouble in the 1970s, he began offering $1 to any customer who could share a new Aggie joke as a way to attract folks to the store. The gimmick earned him the nickname “Aggie Bob,” which stuck with him until his passing in 2011.

English Color and Supply Inc. eventually expanded to 39 locations and provided Bob and his late wife Marijo with a way to give back to Texas A&M. The couple had already supported programs through scholarships and other gifts but decided to make a planned gift to expand their impact further.

In 2006, they created a charitable gift annuity to support the Corps of Cadets, an organization that deeply impacted Bob’s life. Since Marijo passed away in 2012, their gift has created several Corps of Cadets 21st Century Scholarships, which are reserved for cadets who demonstrate outstanding leadership skills. Nick Farrell ’22, a current recipient and engineering major, said, “This scholarship allows me to worry less about finding ways to pay for college and gives me more time to develop as a student and give back to the community.”

A charitable gift annuity is ideal for individuals looking for a secure source of fixed payments both now and into the future. In exchange for cash or publicly traded securities, the Texas A&M Foundation agrees to pay one or two designated people a fixed amount annually for life. When the gift annuity terminates, the Foundation uses the remainder for the purposes designated by the donor.


Type of Gift: Individual retirement account (IRA) beneficiary designation gift
Method: Designate the Foundation as beneficiary of your retirement account.
Benefits: Continue to use your account; gift is revocable.
Honorary Aggie Elizabeth Bradford established an aerospace engineering scholarship in her late husband's honor.

Elizabeth Bradford didn’t receive a degree from Texas A&M University, but she’s as devoted to the school as anyone. “I’ve been around Aggies all my life, and I firmly believe Texas A&M is the most wonderful place in the world,” she said.

Bradford grew up 78 miles from Aggieland in Temple, Texas, where in the early 1960s, she attended Aggie football games and Bonfire with friends. She continued her involvement with the university after marrying her husband, Lewis Bradford, and gained a deep appreciation for the school’s culture.

Lewis earned aerospace engineering degrees at Abilene Christian University and Pepperdine University, but upon his passing, Elizabeth felt it was most appropriate to give to Texas A&M in his name. “We always thought this school stood for so much and achieved so much good,” Bradford said. “Plus, its aerospace program is one of the nation’s best.”

In 2014, Bradford created an IRA beneficiary designation gift to establish an aerospace engineering scholarship. She can continue to use her account while knowing that after her lifetime, her gift will give back to the university that inspired her throughout her life.


Type of Gift: Charitable remainder unitrust
Method: Fund a trust using cash or appreciated property.   
Benefits: Receive payments for life or a term of years and capital gains tax deductions.
Mack Skinner '79 and his wife Debbie '79 created a charitable remainder unitrust so that proceeds from the sale of their land could support future Aggies.
Upon inheriting his family’s ranch, Mack Skinner ’79 had to make a choice. Though he treasured memories of hunting, fishing and ranching on the old property in Abilene, he knew improvements to the land would involve significant time and costs. After discussing the decision with family, Mack and his wife Debbie ’79 created a charitable remainder unitrust so that proceeds from the sale of the land could support future Aggies.

“This gift allowed us to get the most value out of the land while preserving its legacy,” Skinner said. “We’re keeping our family legacy alive through the scholarships our gift will create for future students and the payments it will provide for my family, even through my daughter’s lifetime.”

A charitable remainder unitrust can be funded with real estate, stock or cash. Once established, the trust provides its owners and their designated beneficiaries payments for a specified term of years. After that period is over, the Foundation uses the remainder to fulfill the owner’s intentions. In the Skinners’ case, the gift will create scholarships for students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences as well as a high-impact learning endowment to support lectures, internships, study abroad and similar experiences for Aggies in the college.

“The gift planning officers at the Foundation were incredibly helpful during this process,” Skinner said. “Everyone has their own way of giving back, but we believe in education as the key to success and in Texas A&M’s ability to provide success for students.”

2016: Couple Supports First-Generation Students, Lecture Series

Type of Gift: Investment accounts
Method: Name the Foundation as beneficiary of your investment account.
Benefits: Control assets during your lifetime; gift is revocable.
Jane and Jerry Kingsley used their investment accounts to establish a planned gift supporting Regents' Scholarships and the MSC Wiley Lecture Series.

Though neither of them attended Texas A&M University, Jane and Jerry Kingsley consider themselves Aggies. After experiencing Aggieland through their daughters, Marlee ’07 ’14 and Tara ’10, the Kingsleys decided to support future students by establishing a planned gift using their investment accounts.

The couple’s gift will fund two Regents’ Scholarships for first-generation college students and support the Memorial Student Center Wiley Lecture Series. “Regents’ Scholarships help worthy individuals advance themselves without accruing crippling debt and can help low-income families break the cycle of poverty,” Jerry said. “The Wiley Lecture Series benefits both Texas A&M students and the Bryan-College Station community by exposing residents to influential speakers. Since we moved to Aggieland after retirement, we have enjoyed attending Wiley events and learning from thought-provoking topics on national and foreign policy issues.”

To create a gift using investment accounts, the donor simply names the Texas A&M Foundation as beneficiary of the account(s) on the investment firm’s transfer-on-death form. After the holder’s lifetime, the funds are transferred to the Foundation and used to the donor’s specification.   

“Texas A&M gave our daughters a strong education, taught them how to be servant leaders and pushed them to be better people,” Jane said. “Even though Jerry and I didn’t attend Texas A&M, we’re proud to support a university that promotes those values.”

2017: Cushing Library Receives Boost for Texas History Collections

Type of Gift: IRA charitable rollover
Method: If you are 70 ½ or older, instruct your retirement account custodian to distribute up to $100,000 per year to the Foundation.
Benefits: Reduce your taxable income and satisfy your required minimum distribution.
Ken Kellar '65 and his wife Amanda utilized an IRA charitable rollover to support the Chapman Texas History Endowment.

Ken Kellar ’65 has enjoyed a 15-year career at Corpus Christi Electric Company, a family-owned and operated business that—thanks to its success and solid reputation—has provided him and his wife Amanda many blessings over the years.

In the spirit of giving back, the Kellars set up an IRA charitable rollover to honor the family behind Corpus Christi Electric. Their gift supports the Chapman Texas History Endowment, which was established by the company’s late former president Floyd Chapman and his wife Louise to support the acquisition of Texas history materials for Cushing Memorial Library and Archives.

For individuals 70½ or older, an IRA charitable rollover can help lower the income and taxes from IRA withdrawals. Benefits include the ability to avoid taxes on transfers of up to $100,000 from your IRA; satisfy your required minimum distribution for the year; reduce your taxable income, even if you do not itemize deductions; and make a gift that is not subject to the deduction limits on charitable gifts.

“Texas A&M gave me the skills to work and compete and reinforced in me the value of sharing my good fortune with others,” Kellar said. “Using the IRA rollover was a good choice because gifts became tax neutral in our estate plan. Without the IRA rollover, future payments would have taxable consequences.”

2018: Kauths Support Stevenson Center         

Type of Gift: Bequest
Method: Transfer property or cash to an individual or organization under a will.
Benefits: Control assets during your lifetime; gift is revocable.
Melissa and John Kauth '77 left a gift for the Stevenson Companion Animal Life-Care Center in their wills.

When Melissa and John Kauth ’77 met with an attorney to discuss their wills, they struggled to decide how to settle their assets. They were given an insightful piece of advice that ultimately benefited the university and a cause they cherished: “Give to something you love.”

“We both adore dogs, and I immediately thought of Texas A&M and the Stevenson Companion Animal Life-Care Center,” said Melissa. “The animals at the Stevenson Center are cared for with professional expertise and profound love.” The Stevenson Center is a unique retirement home for pets whose owners can no longer care for them. It also provides veterinary students with invaluable hands-on experience, but will need funding for expansions, upgrades and new equipment in the future.

A charitable bequest is one of the easiest ways to leave a lasting impact at Texas A&M. A bequest allows you to retain assets during your lifetime and lessen the burden of taxes on your family. Because the Kauths don’t have children, they won’t have a taxable estate. “Bequests have the potential for financial benefits,” added John, “but our gift to the Stevenson Center benefits us emotionally.”

The Foundational Facts of Planned Giving

Glenn Pittsford ’72, vice president for gift planning, answers some frequently asked questions about planned gifts.
What is a planned gift?
“Forbes Magazine defines it as, ‘the process of making a significant charitable gift during a donor’s life or at death that is part of his or her financial or estate plan.’ Planned giving combines what you have with who you love and want to support. Utilizing this method of giving, you can leverage the value of your estate to help the people, charities and organizations most important to you.”
Is creating a planned gift difficult?
“Not at all! Simply request information from us to discuss possible estate gift plans that might be right for you. If you’d like to see an overview of the types of gifts available, visit our website. As you narrow your choices for the type of planned gift you want to create, your advisers will ensure you are making the best decision for your personal and financial needs.”
Who will benefit from making a planned gift?
“Planned gifts are beneficial on multiple levels. We believe that the givers greatly benefit, and family members often do as well, depending on the plan type utilized. Ultimately, Texas A&M University benefits from the endowment left by the givers.”
Will I be recognized for my gift?
“Certainly! In fact, as a planned giving donor, we welcome you to become a Heritage Member of the A&M Legacy Society. As I tell people when we celebrate, ‘You have a lifetime of respect and appreciation from the Foundation for your generosity.’ We love to build lifetime relationships with our planned giving friends. When your gift is in place, be sure to alert one of the Foundation’s gift planning officers. It is important for us to have information on the intended gift, where it will be coming from and under what circumstances it is to be received. We also need to ensure that we know what you want the gift to be used for when received in the future.”

If you’re interested in making a planned gift, the Foundation’s gift planning officers will partner with you to explore opportunities, articulate your goals and deliver the greatest benefits—to you, to loved ones and to the ultimate beneficiary of your generosity: Texas A&M. Contact the Office of Gift Planning at (800) 392-3310 or giftplanning@txamfoundation.com.