Texas A&M University often shapes the interests and passions of an entire family. In the case of the Frisbie family, they are creating legacies with the passions they share with Texas A&M. The Frisbies planned an estate gift that supports scholarships and program funding in four distinct areas: marine and coastal conservation, special education, integrated pest management and gardening.
Ray Frisbie, Ph.D., emeritus professor, began his career as an entomologist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. He spent his entire career at Texas A&M, became an internationally recognized expert in integrated pest management, and served as professor and head of the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Department of Entomology for the last nine years of his tenure. He retired in 2003.
Along the way, Ray, his wife, Renée, and their daughter, Katelan ’09, grew to love the university. In appreciation, Ray and Renée have committed a legacy gift through their estate utilizing a testamentary charitable remainder unitrust that will support generations of students after their lifetimes.
“I love Texas A&M. I’m an Aggie by choice, I guess, having worked here for 31 years,” Ray said. “The price of education has risen so sharply that it’s difficult for the average person to go to college. So, the theme of our gift is investing in education, and it is primarily directed toward scholarships or graduate assistantships.”
Impacting Conservation for Generations
The major portion of the gift will establish the Dr. Raymond E. and Renée Barsalou Frisbie Endowed Graduate Student Fellowship in Marine and Coastal Conservation.
Why is an entomologist interested in creating a fellowship in marine and coastal conservation?
Ray’s leadership in developing integrated science approaches for entomology gave him insight into the need for far-reaching applications in other areas of agriculture and life sciences.
“I’ve been a saltwater fisherman for 40 years,” he said. “I’ve seen the disappearance of habitat, freshwater inflows from rivers that go into the bays and estuaries that have been reduced by development, and pollution issues that affect the Gulf Coast and fisheries. I decided a graduate assistantship is the best way I can help address these issues.”
Ray proposed an innovative partnership between the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Department of Ecology and Conservation Biology in College Station and the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
“This is the first donation I’m aware of where the donor specified that students and faculty at two campuses work together and benefit from the gift,” said Jaime Barrera, vice president of institutional advancement for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
In this joint fellowship, doctoral students in marine and coastal conservation will collaborate with fisheries and coastal marine scientists at both campuses. The faculty will guide the students’ research projects and serve on their graduate advisory committees. To be eligible, the students’ field research should address critical needs in marine and coastal conservation such as:
- design and restoration of marine habitats
- water quality for marine life
- short- and long-term impacts of freshwater inflows
- rearing and release methods for sportfish species to cope with changing environmental conditions
- development of government policies to reduce or eliminate industrial, urban and agricultural marine pollution.
The collaboration is intended to have a “multiplier effect” on research output and educational benefits. Both programs will gain from the Gulf Coast location and facilities, as well as benefit from the potential for attracting and retaining top faculty and student researchers.
The Frisbies’ gift commitment shows vision and leadership, said Kirk Winemiller, Ph.D., interim department head for the Department of Ecology and Conservation Biology.
“Someone rarely has the opportunity to make this kind of impact on natural resource conservation,” Winemiller said. “We will be good stewards of this opportunity to train outstanding scientists who will impact the world.”
Many donors interested in conservation issues are thinking about how to have a long-lasting impact. “A planned gift like what the Frisbies have created allows us to support students interested in these same issues many years down the road,” Barrera said. “Through this vehicle, Ray and Renée’s conservation-mindedness and efforts will continue in perpetuity.”
Training Special Education Teachers
Katelan Frisbie’s passion is helping students with learning disabilities succeed. She graduated from Texas A&M in 2009 in interdisciplinary studies with an emphasis in special education and spent much of her career as a special education teacher. Now, she works with youth at a nonprofit organization, The Forge for Families, in Houston’s 3rd Ward. The Forge helps families grow educationally, economically and spiritually.
To honor their daughter’s dedication, Ray and Renée planned The Katelan Frisbie ’09 Endowed Special Education Scholarship to provide scholarships to undergraduate students who pursue a degree that leads to a special education teaching career. The Texas A&M University Department of Educational Psychology will select recipients based on academic achievement, extracurricular activities and financial need.