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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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The Finish Line

As the end of the Lead by Example campaign approaches, here’s a look at some of the biggest campus achievements made possible by donors’ generosity.

The Finish Line

As the end of the Lead by Example campaign approaches, here’s a look at some of the biggest campus achievements made possible by donors’ generosity.

In 2015, Texas A&M University’s fundraising partners publicly announced the Lead by Example campaign, an ambitious initiative to raise $4 billion for Texas A&M. Five years later, more than 851,000 gifts large and small have generously supported the largest campaign for higher education in Texas, which will continue through the end of 2020.

As the end of this historic effort approaches, we wanted to know: How have gifts to the campaign impacted Aggieland? Read on to discover some of the biggest changes that took place in Texas A&M colleges and divisions due to donors’ generosity. 

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

A generous donation from Cactus Feeders Inc., a company dedicated to food production efficiency research, established the Norman Borlaug Endowed Research Scholars Program. The program will help recruit and retain top students from all over the world to conduct agricultural research at Texas A&M. Scholars will glean from the exemplary legacy of Norman Borlaug and be challenged to identify agricultural innovations that can actively protect the environment, improve human health, grow the economy and feed the world. Cactus Feeders provided a $1 million matching fund to encourage other donors to support the students and vision of the program through scholarships and fellowships.

College of Architecture

Former students and other leaders from the College of Architecture’s Development Advisory Council successfully created and funded a new leadership initiative and associated minor degree. James Thompson ’68 funded an endowed professorship, while Tom Owens ’73 funded multiple scholarships in support of the new degree, known as the Leadership in the Construction and Design Professions minor. The overarching leadership initiative seeks to expand support for the minor and provide more multidisciplinary opportunities for students, particularly those with an interest in the unique qualities of creative teams.

The Association of Former Students

Throughout the Lead by Example campaign, The Association of Former Students engaged 138,233 Aggies in support of Texas A&M University, surpassing campaign financial goals ahead of schedule and raising $125.4 million through July 2020. While the dollars are impactful, even more significant is the number of Aggies who made gifts to The Association in support of scholarships and academic programs, traditions and student activities, and former student initiatives. This broad support illustrates the loyalty of the Aggie Network and energizes The Association in closing out the campaign by engaging 100,000 donors in 2020 alone. In supporting The Association through gifts of any amount, every Aggie has the opportunity to make a difference for Texas A&M. Achieving this bold goal will further The Association’s impact and grow long-term philanthropic support for the university, which will ultimately advance Texas A&M’s national stature and influence on our world.  

The Bush School of Government and Public Service

Gifts totaling $6.25 million from the Charles Koch Foundation and Texas A&M University System Regent Robert Albritton ’71 established the Albritton Center for Grand Strategy at the Bush School of Government and Public Service. The new center serves as an intellectual hub for the critical examination of U.S. foreign policy at a time of flux in international politics. The center supports research on America’s grand strategic choices; fosters dialogue between scholars and practitioners; and helps engage a new generation of public servants who will be grand strategic innovators. The center will also give Bush School graduate students with a special interest in grand strategy opportunities to interact with notable speakers and scholars affiliated with the center.

Corps of Cadets 

During the campaign, the Corps of Cadets completed an overhaul of the Quad. A two-phase renovation plan was enacted, consisting of renovations to dorms 1 through 12, landscaping and paving to create a safer, more efficient space for cadets to live, and the opening of four Leadership Learning Centers. These 17,000-square-foot facilities provide cadets with state-of-the-art features, including group and individual study rooms, computer labs, tutoring rooms, lounges and even a Starbucks. The centers were funded through more than $20 million in private donations, including lead gifts from Susan and Michael J. Plank ’83, Stephen C. Ash ’87, H. Grady Ash Jr. ’58 and Tony Buzbee ’90. The renovated Quad creates a true living and learning community for cadets by providing convenient residential study spaces and has helped raise the average GPA in the Corps to 3.1.

College of Dentistry

The College of Dentistry raised more than $10 million to construct a new nine-story, 167,000-square-foot Clinic and Education Building in Dallas. With the building’s grand opening in January 2020, the dental school can expand enrollment, treat more patients and address the need for more dental health professionals across the state. The College of Dentistry is one of only two dental colleges in the nation that offers training in all nine oral health specializations. Its student practitioners engage in more than 100,000 visits with patients—many of whom are from low-income, underserved communities—for a fraction of the price of a private practice visit. The building’s design supports an innovative educational model for teaching and learning that enhances comprehensive patient care and supports the school’s status as the largest single provider of oral health care in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

College of Education and Human Development

Among her many commitments to the university, Reta Haynes committed a $5 million planned gift in 2016 to establish a dean’s chair in the College of Education and Human Development. Through the university’s chair matching program, cash funds from the president’s office increased the chair to $6 million. Endowed chairs help recruit and retain elite professors and faculty to the university, strengthening the quality of educational opportunities. Haynes’ gift has fulfilled her passion for education by supporting Dean Joyce Alexander for the past five years. Funds from the chair have supported Alexander’s research initiatives as well as new academic programs, undergraduate research and internal seed grants in the college. Uniquely, Alexander pledged that a portion of the chair’s income would also always be used to provide Aggie scholarships. In 2019 alone, four clinical teaching awards were given to students fulfilling their student teaching requirement.

College of Engineering

The August 2018 unveiling of the new Zachry Engineering Education Complex, the largest academic building on campus, signaled an impressive moment for the future of Texas A&M engineering education. The 525,000-square-foot facility—equipped with 60,000 square feet of maker’s space, expansive instructional labs, 3D printers and technology-enhanced learning studios—revolutionizes the way students learn engineering principles. The inclusion of 10 large-scale artworks throughout the building that merge art with science and technology has also led to the development of the first engineering art curriculum. The completion of the four-year, $228 million project came with the help of more than $75 million in private donations, including a $1 million gift from the Student Engineers’ Council that kicked off fundraising efforts.

The George & Barbara Bush Foundation

The George & Barbara Bush Foundation is dedicated to preserving the legacies of President and Mrs. Bush by supporting the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum and The Bush School of Government and Public Service. As one of four of Texas A&M’s affiliated fundraising entities, the organization has raised nearly $28 million for the Lead by Example campaign through contributions from more than 26,000 donors.

College of Geosciences

Generations of future Aggie geologists will have the opportunity to attend Field Camp, thanks to a $3 million gift from Jane ’76 and Bill R. Thomas ’75 that endowed the camp and ensured its longevity. As part of the College of Geosciences’ comprehensive field-based education program, Field Camp allows geology and geophysics students to solidify their understanding of basic and complex geological concepts during three-week summer excursions to states such as Montana, Utah and New Mexico. Through various field and mapping exercises, Aggies gain real-world insight into the scale and scope of geology and the character and complexities of rocks in the natural environment.

The Hagler Institute for Advanced Study

Distinguished former student Jon Hagler ’58 committed $20 million to the now named Hagler Institute for Advanced Study. Hagler’s transformative gift established the institute as a permanent part of Texas A&M, forever enhancing its academic quality. The institute brings world-class scholars to campus for up to 12 months to collaborate on career-changing research with outstanding Texas A&M faculty and students. Eleven of the institute’s 70 fellows have since joined the university’s faculty and, as a result, have attracted additional national academy members to campus. These additions of excellence have drastically enhanced the international reputations of key academic units, helping to ensure the finest education for Aggie students.

School of Law

The School of Law joined the Texas A&M family in 2013 and has skyrocketed in rank and reputation in the time since—recently jumping an unprecedented 23 points to a No. 60 ranking in the U.S. News & World Report’s listing of the nation’s top law schools. Given the school’s relative youth and small number of Aggie graduates, some of its most significant campaign gifts have come from non-law graduates. Two recent gifts are exemplary: $250,000 commitments from Jon Hagler ’58 and Avi and Debra Naider. Hagler’s gift created the Hagler Law Symposium Fund, which will be used to host policy-oriented conversations on critical social and economic challenges facing our state and the nation. Avi Naider, a Princeton University graduate and long-time friend to Bobby Ahdieh, dean of the law school, created a scholarship endowment in Ahdieh’s honor that will support law students who offer extraordinary service or support to a classmate or participate in one of the school’s 10 community legal service clinics.

College of Liberal Arts

A $1 million gift from Susanne and Melbern Glasscock ’59, longtime supporters of the College of Liberal Arts, created a director’s chair for the Melbern G. Glasscock Center for Humanities Research. The gift was matched with $1 million from the Texas A&M President’s Office. In 2002, the Glasscocks gave a large donation to name the institute, a world-leading humanities hub that awards grants and fellowships for humanities research and sponsors lecture series and other events. The couple’s most recent gift supports the center’s new director, Dr. Emily Brady, a humanities expert who formerly taught at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Brady’s unique leadership will guide the center as it focuses on new initiatives, such as Humanities: Land Sea Space, which addresses urgent environmental concerns, and Global Health and the Humanities, which explores global health issues.

University Libraries

In 2013, Susan ’74 and Bill Ouren '74 set out to preserve Aggie history at Cushing Memorial Library and Archives by establishing two gifts. Their $150,000 cash gift funded startup equipment, furnishings and supplies necessary for the Libraries’ new Preservation Unit, while their $3 million planned gift created the William and Susan Ouren Preservation Librarian Endowment. After their lifetimes, this endowment will fund a preservation librarian position and support preservation efforts for the many rare and fragile items in Cushing’s collections. The Ourens’ combined gifts will make a lasting impact on Cushing and the students and researchers who utilize its preserved history.

Mays Business School

Initially founded in 1994 by Peggy and Lowry Mays ’57, the Mays Family Foundation generously gives to causes and communities that have impacted its founders. In 2017, the organization gave a $25 million gift to Mays Business School, the largest single commitment in the school’s history. The gift supports several areas of innovation and established the Lowry Mays Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy in the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, which is focused on attracting entrepreneurial students to Mays and supporting their success. In addition, $15 million is earmarked toward the proposed building expansion of the school’s Business Education Complex. The expanded, upgraded facility will include new active learning classrooms, state-of-the-art digital and telecommunication technologies, and work areas to promote connectivity, creativity and collaboration. With this commitment, the Mays Family Foundation has now given more than $47 million to Texas A&M, including an original $15 million commitment in 1996 to name Mays Business School.

College of Medicine

In collaboration with the College of Engineering and Houston Methodist Hospital, the College of Medicine developed a new graduate school option that is leading the future of health care. Engineering Medicine, or EnMed, welcomed its inaugural 25 students in 2019 thanks to more than $1.1 million contributed by donors. As the nation’s first fully integrated engineering and medical education curriculum, EnMed educates a new kind of doctor: “physicianeers.” This new medical education model prepares professionals with the clinical skills to diagnose symptoms and treat patients, along with the engineering mindset to solve problems, invent new technologies and rapidly move these innovative ideas to practice in patient care. As a result, EnMed graduates have the potential to solve some of today’s most daunting health problems.

College of Nursing

To provide for the next generation of health care professionals, Sue and Dr. Joe Knowles ’50 committed a $750,000 cash gift and a $7 million planned gift to fund scholarships for students in the colleges of medicine and nursing. Their gift marks the largest individual gift ever made in the history of the Texas A&M Health Science Center. Divided equally between the two colleges, the couple’s scholarships are designed to encourage future Aggie nurses and physicians to pursue careers in rural health care. A big boost to the College of Nursing’s scholarship program, the Knowles’ gift has supported six nursing students since 2017.

College of Pharmacy

In an effort to create a diverse group of much-needed pharmacists who can address medical needs in underserved areas in Texas, Aimee ’93 and John Mohr ’94 supported the Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy at Texas A&M with an endowed gift to provide scholarships for first-year, out-of-state students earning a degree in the college. Their gift will alleviate students’ financial burdens so they can focus on their studies and experiences at Texas A&M. The Mohrs, who now live in Massachusetts, chose to help out-of-state students so they can experience the wide array of beliefs and cultures that come with living in a different state and create lasting relationships.  

School of Public Health

The Texas A&M School of Public Health is devoted to revolutionizing health through interdisciplinary inquiry, innovative solutions and a commitment to create Aggie leaders through the tradition of service. During the campaign, the school has prioritized funding and awarding scholarships to attract the best and brightest students to Texas A&M. The school has raised $445,000 to create 12 new scholarships for deserving students. These scholarships help expose students to a variety of industries and provide opportunities to grow professionally.

College of Science

Thanks to more than 30 donors, the College of Science achieved its goal to raise $2.7 million to permanently endow the Science Leadership Scholars program. Established in 2016, the program provides an average of $2,000 in annual support to first-generation students from low-income families in the College of Science. Scholars attend weekly meetings with mentors and participate in academic workshops that help them acclimate to college. Participants are twice as likely to graduate in four years with a STEM degree when compared to students from similar backgrounds who do not participate. Now in its fourth year, the program has served 71 Aggies, including two who completed their degrees in December 2019 as the program’s first graduates and an additional 10 graduates in May 2020.

Division of Student Affairs

After a successful fundraising campaign involving 207 individuals who contributed more than $21 million, the John D. White ’70 – Robert L. Walker ’58 Music Activities Center opened in August 2019 after 20 months of construction. The 70,000-square-foot building provides a new home to the more than 1,300 Aggies who are part of Texas A&M’s orchestras, choral groups and bands. It includes state-of-the-art rehearsal spaces and soundproof practice rooms, ample instrument storage, a reception area and student lounge, administrative offices and a perfect turf replica of Kyle Field that serves as the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band’s new drill field. The center rivals the quality of any university music facility in the United States and provides a bright future for Texas A&M’s music traditions.

Texas A&M Foundation

The Texas A&M Foundation exceeded its goal to raise $1 billion in planned gifts during the Lead by Example campaign. These gifts, which account for 42% of the total funds raised by the Foundation thus far, will play a crucial role in providing for the future of Texas A&M’s students, faculty, staff and programs. The popularity of planned gifts continues to increase, as these flexible commitments allow individuals to customize their method of giving, receive potential financial benefits and provide for loved ones, all while supporting Aggieland. During the campaign, the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, the College of Engineering and the Corps of Cadets received the highest commitments in planned gifts.

Texas A&M University at Galveston

Through four endowed scholarships and a significant planned gift, Jere and Capt. Jack Smith ’64 have significantly aided Texas A&M University at Galveston’s marine transportation students. Both their current and planned gift scholarships support students in the Texas A&M Maritime Academy training to become deck officers aboard seagoing vessels and are designated for those who exhibit outstanding achievements while onboard a training vessel during  the academy’s summer sea term. While the highly specialized education and training offered on these cruises is unmatched, the price is upwards of $10,000—a cost the Smiths’ gifts will help offset. Their planned gift will also help with the upkeep of Galveston’s vessel training simulator, which offers a moving, virtual reality experience for aspiring ship officers. The couple’s support has been crucial to the success of the Texas A&M Maritime Academy and students who wish to master a career at sea.

Texas A&M University Press

A generous $100,000 gift from Sarah ’84 and Mark Philpy ’77 sponsored a new book series from Texas A&M University Press called the “Texas Experience.” The series reflects the land-grant mission of Texas A&M to serve the people of Texas, from scholars to general readers, with topics that reflect the broad interests of a big state. The couple’s gift already underwrote two books published in 2019: “Photographing Texas: The Swartz Brothers, 1880–1918” by Richard Selcer and “In the Shadow of the Chinatis: A History of Pinto Canyon in the Big Bend” by David Keller. Sarah has served as a member of the Press’ Advancement Board since 2011. The couple’s gift will continue to support the publishing of more high-caliber books in the series.

College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

In support of advanced veterinary research, Linda and Dennis Clark ’68 gave a $1 million gift to fund two faculty chairs in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. The faculty chairholders, Dr. Ashlee Watts (pictured in maroon) and Dr. Brian Saunders ’98, are undertaking research in support of the college’s translational medicine priority, which focuses on translating novel treatments in veterinary medicine to the human realm. Saunders is a small animal orthopedic surgeon who runs canine comparative orthopedics and cellular therapeutics laboratories. His team focuses on the development of bone and cartilage tissue engineering solutions and how these solutions can also be applied to humans. Funds from the gift are also supporting Watts, an equine orthopedic surgeon, and her team as they refine the miRNA-29a dose for tendon injury in horses that they developed in 2017. The therapy heals tendon injury faster and better than previous techniques and is undergoing FDA approval. If approved, it will be the first miRNA replacement therapy in the world.

12th Man Foundation

During the campaign, former students and friends of Texas A&M contributed more than $229 million in private donations toward the redevelopment of Kyle Field and more than $18 million to the construction of Davis Diamond and E.B. Cushing Stadium. These new facilities are some of the nation’s finest collegiate athletic venues. With a seating capacity of 102,733, Kyle Field is now the largest college football stadium in the Southeastern Conference and the fourth largest in the nation. Replacing the Frank G. Anderson Complex built in 1985, E.B. Cushing Stadium is the new home of Texas A&M’s track and field teams and seats 3,000 fans. It also features a new nine-lane track and press box as well as meeting, training and locker rooms. Davis Diamond, the new venue for Aggie softball, seats 2,000 fans and includes club level and luxury suites as well as a new press box and TV booth.

Contact:

Dunae Reader '15

Assistant Director of Marketing & Communications/Spirit Editor/Maroon Co-Editor