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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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Two Voices

An Instrumental Relationship

A new Music Activities Center on south campus will be home to more than 1,300 Texas A&M student musicians, including those members of the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band.

Texas A&M University is a big step closer to breaking ground on a new Music Activities Center thanks to a $10 million naming gift from the Corpus Christi-based Ed Rachal Foundation.

The organization has contributed $31.4 million to student, faculty and capital construction initiatives at Texas A&M since 1973 and recently received the Texas A&M Foundation’s 2016 Sterling Evans Medal for its philanthropic legacy.

The $10 million contribution to the Texas A&M Foundation is the largest gift to date in the campaign to build a new Music Activities Center on south campus that will be home to more than 1,300 student musicians who participate in the university’s 14 orchestras, choral groups and bands, including the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band. The facility will replace the E.V. Adams Band Hall and is expected to cost $40 million, funded equally by the university and by donors through the Texas A&M Foundation.

The Rachal Foundation’s gift brings the private giving total to almost $19 million, with the remaining $1 million expected to be raised in 2016 so construction can begin in 2017.

In a surprise announcement during this year’s Evans Medal event in late February, Rachal Foundation CEO Paul Altheide and Chairman David Hoyer announced that the organization would request to name the new facility in honor of Dr. Robert Walker ’58 and John White ’70, former board members of the Rachal Foundation who were instrumental in establishing its relationship with Texas A&M.

The new John D. White ’70 – Robert L. Walker ’58 Music Activities Center will feature adequate practice space and amenities including soundproof rooms, lockers for instrument storage, an artificial turf drill field and four state-of-the-art rehearsal halls. The center will also offer students, alumni and visitors an opportunity to learn more about Texas A&M’s musical traditions.

We asked Walker and White to share what this incredible honor means to them.
 

 
Bob Walker ’58 (fourth from left)
Former Vice President for Development, Texas A&M University
 

My first contact with the Ed Rachal Foundation came in 1978, when the university was trying to get lights for Olsen Field. I called Curtis Robert ’49, executive director of the Foundation, who said they didn’t have interest in funding lights but would entertain a different proposal in the future. A later ask resulted in $100,000 for scholarships, and from that point our friendship continued.

Curtis later asked me to serve on the Rachal Foundation board, where for 23 years I immensely enjoyed the opportunity to support charitable causes across Texas and especially at Texas A&M. When it was announced that my name would appear with John’s on the new Music Activities Center, it took my breath away. This country boy from the little town of Spur, Texas, never dreamed of having his name on a building in Aggieland.

As a fundraiser for the university, I have contended that one of the best ways to highlight Texas A&M is through its musical groups, because these students are unparalleled in displaying their talent around the nation and world. This new facility honors Aggies who participate in music ensembles and will give them even greater opportunity to practice and prepare for performances in years to come.

While I was not a member of any musical organization at Texas A&M (I can barely play a radio!), I was proud to be named an honorary Singing Cadet in 1996 after I helped its former director Bob Boone raise funds for the group to tour in Europe. The Rachal Foundation also honored my wife JoAnn and me when I retired in 2014 by making a $1 million endowment in our name for the Singing Cadets.

I would like to offer special thanks to my fellow trustees of the Rachal Foundation. Gentlemen, you made John and me so proud, and we will always be in your debt for your generosity to our university.

 
John White ’70
Chief Operating Officer, The Southern Funds Group LLC.
 

My involvement with the Ed Rachal Foundation began in 1995, when I was invited to join its board by Bob Walker and the late John Blocker ’45. The Foundation had a reputation for giving to groups that served South Texas and, thanks to Bob Walker, to Texas A&M.

During my time as chairman of the Foundation from 1998 to 2013, the great compatibility of our board enabled us to carry out our mission in a meaningful way. Innumerable charitable organizations, children’s homes, schools and literacy programs benefited greatly. Throughout its many grants, the board maintained a low profile and never sought recognition—an approach that, in my opinion, demonstrates selfless service in a manner that personifies that Aggie value.

The surprise announcement by the board was emotional for me, and I get choked up thinking about it. The two things most dear to my heart are my family and Texas A&M, with the Rachal Foundation a very close third. The gift and the naming of the new Music Activities Center honor my family, Bob’s family and the Rachal Foundation’s history of giving to Texas A&M, not just Bob and me.

I will always be thankful for the board’s decision to give this gift. To be connected with Bob is also a great honor, and a “thank you” is wholly inadequate to express my gratitude. This gift also carries special significance to my family, as my wife Daisy grew up in College Station and fondly remembers watching the band perform as a young child. Indeed, our family has always treasured Texas A&M’s musical groups.

Each organization that will use this building is an ambassador and public face for Texas A&M. Our university’s musical legacy honors Aggies everywhere, and I am beyond humbled to have my name on a building that will forever showcase that legacy.

Contact:

Cindy Munson '99

Senior Director of Major Gifts
Major Gifts