COLLEGE STATION, Texas—Ellie and Don Knauss of Sugar Land, Texas, have committed a $5 million gift to the Texas A&M Foundation to support Texas A&M University’s Veteran Resource & Support Center (VRSC). The center will be renamed the Don and Ellie Knauss Veteran Resource & Support Center.
The VRSC, which is part of the Division of Student Affairs, provides resources for nearly 1,300 Texas A&M student veterans and their family members. Since opening in 2012, veteran enrollment has more than doubled in size. Its 26 strategic programs—ranging from academic support and financial assistance to veteran networking and beyond—proactively support student veterans from “application to vocation” by focusing on academic, financial and personal well-being as well as career success.
Col. Jerry Smith, director of the VRSC, said the center’s tremendous expansion has caused growing pains that the Knausses’ gift will alleviate. “We’ve been understaffed the past seven years due to space constraints, which prevented us from growing programs and starting new initiatives,” Smith said. “With this gift, I have a simple answer when people ask me what the VRSC will look like in 2030: There won’t just be hundreds of success stories like we’re currently witnessing—there will be thousands! Don and Ellie are helping to write these stories. They are literally changing lives for those who have served our great country.”
The $5 million gift will support four areas within the VRSC: $2.5 million is dedicated to renovations in the Memorial Student Center where the new center will permanently reside; $1 million will be retained as a facility endowment for maintenance; $1 million will be directed to an excellence fund to be used at the discretion of VRSC leadership to provide funding for on-campus veteran programs; and $500,000 will be used as matching funds to encourage the creation of new veteran scholarships.