Menu

Spirit Archives

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.

View the full magazine archive

Also In This Issue

New Gifts: Recent Gifts to the Foundation

Something Old, Something New

The wedding registry of Alex ’10 and Michael Nance ’08 included something more meaningful than your typical serving platters, plates and silverware. In lieu of wedding gifts, the couple asked their guests to donate money toward a $25,000 endowed scholarship at Texas A&M.

“During our engagement, we talked about starting to build our legacy together,” Michael said. “Giving back to our alma mater, the place that brought us together, seemed like the perfect way to begin that legacy.”

The newlyweds received an overwhelming response from their guests and raised $2,500 toward their scholarship in 2014. While the Nances planned to continue contributing funds to endow the scholarship during the next five years, Michael’s grandfather Wayne Nance passed away just months after their wedding and left the couple funds in his estate. They chose to honor him by fulfilling the rest of the endowment.

“Wayne was the most gracious and giving person,” Alex said. “He always reminded us of how blessed we are and how important it is to give back to those in need.”

The Nances’ first scholarship recipient will be awarded this fall. Uniquely, they designated that the recipient alternate each year between a business and petroleum engineering student to reflect their own majors.

Training the Troops

Since 2007, the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship in Mays Business School has hosted more than 200 veterans in its Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans. A unique initiative, the program teaches post-9/11 veterans with service-related disabilities how to create and sustain entrepreneurial ventures.

To ensure the program continues to help veterans gain economic freedom, Reynolds and Reynolds gave a $2 million gift. To recognize their generosity, the program was renamed the Reynolds and Reynolds Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities.

“Reynolds and Reynolds has recruited heavily at Texas A&M for years, and the ranks of our employees—from executives to smaller roles across the company—are well represented by Aggies,” said Vice Chairman Rob Nalley ’65. “With this gift, we can provide a meaningful, lasting impact for military veterans, one of our country’s greatest resources.”

The bootcamp is one of only a handful of such programs at higher education institutions in the United States. Veterans participate in a three-week online course and a nine-day intensive residency on the Texas A&M campus, during which they meet accomplished entrepreneurs and complete 80 hours of instruction. Afterward, they are offered 12 months of follow-up support.

During the last 10 years, more than 60 percent of participants launched a business within months of leaving Texas A&M.

Brenda and Glenn Dresner '69

Santa’s Special Surprise

Siblings Lindsey Dresner-Duke ’06 and Dustin Dresner ’01 unwrapped an unusual set of presents last Christmas—ones that revealed not trinkets or gadgets, but two plaques commemorating scholarships endowed in their names by their parents, Brenda and Glenn Dresner ’69.

“We’ve always enjoyed giving gifts that are a total surprise,” Glenn said, “but it was extremely hard for us to keep the scholarships secret for more than six months!” 

For Lindsey, who started dancing at age 4, Glenn and Brenda established a $25,000 endowed Aggie Dance Team scholarship to recognize the impact the organization had on her four years in Aggieland. “Tears filled my eyes when I saw the plaque,” Lindsey said. “I was incredibly blessed to have a debt-free education, but I know that is not the case for most students.” 

For Dustin, a licensed captain in the Merchant Marines and chief mate for Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc., the Dresners endowed a $25,000 scholarship for students studying marine transportation at the Texas A&M University Galveston Campus.

“Scholarships not only benefit the student recipient,” Glenn said, “but also relieve stress from the parents of that child. We are extremely grateful to give back to Texas A&M for all that it has given our family.”

Loyal Patrons

There’s a lot to be said about loyalty. Cynthia ’77 and G. Dan Parker ’62, who served a combined 66 years in Texas A&M’s Provost Office and Engineering Program Office, respectively, can attest to that. In a new show of devotion, the couple recently endowed two study abroad scholarships utilizing matching funds.

“If we had our way,” Cynthia said, “every student would get the opportunity to go abroad and experience life outside of College Station.”

The Parkers established their first study abroad scholarship in 2013, but jumped on the opportunity to establish two more scholarships in 2016 through the John Tom Campbell ’45 Endowed Scholarship Program. This program will provide matching funds in $25,000 increments for 54 study abroad scholarships.

Twenty-two of the available matching scholarships were established as of June 1. By contributing $50,000 and utilizing $50,000 in Campbell matching funds, the Parkers are giving more Aggies the opportunity to receive the cultural experiences they believe are important.

“When students travel and interact with people from different cultures, their horizons are broadened,” Dan said. “They tend to see the world in a new light.”

Gift Wrap-Up

  • Piggy Bank Savings

    After hearing that his family was funding a veteran’s scholarship to honor his late great-grandfather, 5-year-old Jude O’Neal placed his entire life savings—$2.33—in a plastic sandwich bag and made his contribution to the $100,000 Major Nolan O'Neal, USA (Ret.) ’75 Aggie Veteran Freedom Scholarship.
  • Architecture Aid

    A significant gift from William Merriweather Peña ’42 (right), a World War II hero and renowned architect, created an endowed scholarship program that will help aspiring graduate, undergraduate and prospective Aggie architects receive world-class educations.
  • Easthams Give Back

    For Andrea ’94 and Lyle Eastham ’94, giving back defines being an Aggie. The couple created a gift in liberal arts that will provide a $10,000 scholarship to one communication, economics or international studies major each semester for five years.
  • Leading by Example

    Mays Business School Dean Eli Jones ’82 and Executive Associate Dean Duane Ireland took leading by example to a new level by endowing $50,000 scholarships that will ensure the growth of their respective business disciplines. Jones’ scholarship will benefit a marketing student pursuing a selling and sales management career track, while Ireland’s will support a graduate student in the entrepreneurial leadership track of the Professional Program of Accounting.