Despite being three generations apart, Harry Wayne Springfield ’59 and John J. Jacisin III ’20 have much in common: a passion for science, an excitement for research, and a commitment to leave a legacy at Texas A&M University. The two men are connected through more than just the Aggie family, as one’s generosity supports the other’s education.
Jacisin, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, is the recipient of a graduate fellowship funded by Springfield through the Texas A&M Foundation. With its funds, he conducts research on the community-level relationships between environmentally sensitive vertebrate organisms and their environments in North America.
“My hope is that this research will improve species distribution models for the past, present and future,” Jacisin said. “This will in turn help inform conservation strategies for vertebrate communities as humans continue interacting with the world. My techniques are potentially applicable to vertebrates around the globe, and they will provide a historical understanding of the relationships between organisms and their environments.”
During his lifetime, the late Springfield, a former U.S. Forest Service (USFS) range scientist, created the endowed fellowship to support student research endeavors. The endowment provides funding on a yearly basis to Ph.D. candidates in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, allowing recipients to explore new avenues of learning before graduation.
To begin funding the gift, Springfield gave annual cash gifts to the Foundation. Years later, a realized bequest in his will fully funded the fellowship. By making a blended gift—a combination of two or more methods of giving—individuals can leave a legacy during and after their lifetimes and grow the impact of their giving to Texas A&M. To make a bequest, an individual specifies that a portion of their estate be given to the Foundation to benefit Texas A&M by including simple bequest language in their will.
Jacisin is the first recipient of Springfield’s fellowship, giving him the opportunity to make his research a reality and leave his mark on the scientific community. “This fellowship allows me to focus 100 percent of my time on my studies and my research,” Jacisin said. “This fellowship will go a long way towards helping me accomplish my goals, and that wouldn’t be possible without people like Dr. Springfield.”
Springfield, who passed away in 2013, graduated from Texas A&M with a doctorate in range management after attending the University of New Mexico and the University of Arizona for his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, respectively. A pioneer in his field and a leader in exploration, Springfield published 79 popular and scientific articles during his 30 years with the USFS. He also spearheaded mountains of research, much of which acts as the basis for today’s current range management studies. The Arizona native directed grazing and germination studies as well as revegetation trials consistently throughout his career, with some studies spanning more than a decade.
Times have changed since Springfield graduated from Texas A&M. The campus has grown in size and stature, branches extend from Galveston, Texas, to Qatar, and more than 1,000 organizations make a difference on campus. However, traditions and values hold true from generation to generation, and generosity like Springfield’s pushes Aggies to the forefront of academics and gives students a once-in-a-lifetime experience at Texas A&M.
Fellowships and scholarships bring life to students’ goals and ideas and spark motivation for achievement and success. Because of generous donors like Springfield, passionate students like Jacisin can make waves in their respective fields and continue Texas A&M’s mission of providing high-quality education, academic programs, research opportunities and creative outlets to Aggies now and in the future.
To learn more about how you can create a gift in your will to support your interests at Texas A&M University, request our Estate & Gift Planning Kit.