Also In This Issue

New Gifts: Recent Gifts to the Foundation

Accounting Department Naming Underway

Nearly $7.5 million is pledged and committed toward a $10 million fundraising campaign to name the Department of Accounting in honor of James Benjamin, department head since 1982.

Denise and David Baggett ’81 and Ernst & Young contributed lead gifts of $2 million each, while other supporters include KPMG LLP, Deloitte, Karen Pape ’80, Karen and Rodney Faldyn ’88, Becky ’76 and Monty Davis ’77, Lina and Kenny Lawson, Marian ’82 and Willie Langston ’81, Wanda and Lou Paletta ’78, Kay ’02 and Jerry Cox ’72, Tracy and Randy Hale '85, and Mark Kelly '79.

Benjamin, the Deloitte Foundation Leadership Professor, was chosen as a namesake because of his dedication to students. “Jim’s personality, business savvy and leadership skills would have made him very successful in the corporate world,” said David Baggett. “Fortunately for me and thousands of other accounting and business graduates, Jim dedicated his career to our success.”

Half of the Baggetts’ donation will create a matching gift fund to encourage other donors to contribute to the cause. Funds will enable the department to recruit outstanding faculty, develop international opportunities for students to learn global accounting practices and support high-impact educational programs.

“While I am gratified to be part of the growth and success of the accounting program,” said Benjamin, “I have always recognized that our growing reputation was a product of exceptional students and talented faculty.”

To make an endowed gift of $25,000 or more to support the naming initiative, contact Brian Bishop ’91 at (979) 862-3615 or Give online at

poultry science receives $1 Million

The Department of Poultry Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences received its largest gift to date—a $1 million contribution from Pilgrim’s Corp. to renovate the feed mill at the Poultry Science Research, Teaching and Extension Center.

“This gift comes at a critical time in our department’s growth,” said David Caldwell, poultry science department head. “Funds will allow us to modernize our feed mill with industry-relevant equipment and boost our feed manufacturing capacity. That added capacity will also feed expanded research in poultry science over the next several decades.”

The current feed mill is a 1963 system that was refurbished and installed for the department in 1986. It can only produce one ton of feed per hour for the department’s approximately 25,000 laying and broiler chickens, but new equipment will increase the mill’s feed production to five to seven tons per hour.

“The research provided by Texas A&M is invaluable to the poultry industry, and this investment will help us rise to the challenge of feeding the world’s growing population,” said Bill Lovette ’82, Pilgrim’s CEO. “We are confident that Texas A&M will continue to be a leader in agricultural education and poultry science.”

Davis' Endow Leadership Conference

To support Texas A&M student leaders, Cathy and Bill Davis ’75 committed an endowed gift to the Memorial Student Center (MSC) Fall Leadership Conference (FLC), a program in the Division of Student Affairs. Half of their $500,000 gift provides the organization a permanent source of funding, while the other half supports future facility maintenance and operations of the MSC.

The FLC is an annual three-day conference during which more than 100 student leaders from across campus explore leadership styles and philosophies, network with other students, and interact with Texas A&M administrators, faculty and former students. 

As a student, Bill Davis—a former MSC president—participated in early versions of the conference and found that it boosted his confidence and interpersonal skills. “The FLC provides valuable lessons in leadership and life,” Davis said. “We hope this gift allows more students to participate as the conference grows.”

In recognition of their gift, the remaining entrance of the MSC will be named “The Cathy and William W. Davis ’75 Selfless Service Entrance.” Additionally, a segment of the FLC will become “The Cathy and William W. Davis ’75 Fall Leadership Conference Dinner and Fireside Chat,” where students will meet in small discussion groups with Texas A&M former students. 

Nobel Recipient Makes Gift

Distinguished physics professor and Nobel laureate David Lee contributed a $90,000 cash gift to the Institute for Quantum Science and Engineering in the College of Science. His gift will support quantum studies, a branch of physics that is fundamental to the theory of nature at small scales and low energy levels of atomic and subatomic particles.

Lee received the 1996 Nobel Prize in Physics, along with Douglas Osheroff and Robert Richardson, for their 1972 breakthrough discovery of the superfluidity of helium-3, showing that it was unaffected by friction at extremely low temperatures.

Lee joined Texas A&M University in 2009 and works in the Department of Physics and Astronomy’s condensed matter program.

The Institute for Quantum Science and Engineering’s research extends into diverse fields such as quantum philosophy, national security, laser physics and nanoscience. Success in these fields impacts industry, agriculture, medicine, renewable energy efforts and ultrasensitive magnetometry.

Gift Wrap-Up

  • Gift Supports Two Colleges

    To help the College of Education and Human Development impact the human performance field, Debbie and Mike Hilliard ’73 committed a $2 million planned gift to the Huffines Institute for Sports Medicine and Human Performance. Their gift will boost the institute’s discussion series and provide a director’s chair and graduate fellowships. The couple also gave a $3 million planned gift toward scholarships for student entrepreneurship activities and the creation of a minor and certificate program in the College of Liberal Arts.
  • Practical Professor

    Kathy ’81 and Peter Huddleston ’80 donated $1 million to support a professor of practice in the Petroleum Ventures Program, a unique collaboration between the colleges of engineering and business. The gift will support a faculty member of exceptional merit who will share first-hand career experience and insight with petroleum engineering students.
  • Giving to Geology

    A $1 million planned gift from Debra ’79 and Michael Dishberger ’79 will establish scholarships for science majors and graduate fellowships for students in the Department of Geology and Geophysics.

Dunae Reader '15

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