August 24, 2015

Thomas '63 and Phyllis Smith have chosen to support liberal arts students by establishing an endowment for a need-based scholarship.

Thomas “Tim” Smith III ’63 graduated from Texas A&M University when it was still the Agricultural & Mechanical College of Texas. His finance degree opened the door to a career that has spanned the globe and allowed him and his wife to give back to support students with a $25,000 scholarship in the College of Liberal Arts.

After graduation, Tim worked in Houston for nearly 10 years before joining Lehman Brothers and being transferred to Paris and then London. He said his first day working in Paris changed his life. Although the opportunity to live overseas was possibly the most challenging aspect of his career, he said, it was also the most rewarding.

After starting a financial services company in London, Tim was also able to travel to European financial centers and cities such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo. His experiences abroad opened his eyes to “the idea that there’s a big wide world out there–people with different backgrounds, different cultures.”

In 2000, Tim married his wife Phyllis. Six years later, the couple started their winery business, French Country Wines, in Houston.

Tim’s family has strong ties to Texas A&M that date back to the late 19th century—his father, grandfather and two great-uncles all attended Texas A&M, and his great-great-uncle William Smith was a member of the original graduating class of 1879. And the Aggie tradition continued with his children Russell Smith '94 and Kristen Barker '98. Tim was a member of the Corps of Cadets during his time as a student, and he credits this experience, along with his service in the Marine Corps, with giving him structure and teaching him to confront challenges.

“There are so many influences you face day to day in going to school there that a lot of people just don’t have. There are challenges; there are rewards. There’s nothing like the spirit that you feel at a football game–there’s nothing to replace that. Nobody else has that,” he said.

Although Tim was a student of the School of Arts and Sciences, which split in 1965 to create the College of Liberal Arts, the Smiths have chosen to support liberal arts students by establishing a an endowment for a need-based scholarship that they hope will enable students to pursue an education that might otherwise have been unattainable. Tim said he believes that supporting the college is “a wonderful way to give back to the university, to make sure that other students are able to enjoy the same type of education—or even better than—people of [my] age were able to.”

The Smiths’ philanthropy stems not only from their history with A&M, but also from their desire to see the College of Liberal Arts thrive.

“Because of my family background, I feel a particularly strong connection with A&M, and I want to do whatever I can to further its creative excellence,” Tim said.

By Sid Mitchell ’16

Texas A&M Foundation 
The Texas A&M Foundation is a nonprofit organization that solicits and manages investments in academics and leadership programs to enhance Texas A&M’s capability to be among the best universities.