When Dr. Benton Cocanougher was appointed dean of Mays Business School in 1987, the school was still in its formative years. “Even so, it was an exciting time with all the growth happening and the excellent faculty already in place,” he said. “Hiring additional esteemed faculty helped to earn us growing national recognition. Of course, the invaluable support we received from former students and the corporate community made our success possible.”
Cocanougher remained dean of the school until 2001. It was during his tenure that the Mays family made their original gift to the business school—the importance of the Mays family’s support cannot be overstated, Dr. Cocanougher notes. During his deanship, the college’s endowment increased from $10 million to $70 million; the college and several academic programs began appearing in national business school rankings; and the Wehner Building was built.
After serving as dean, Cocanougher continued to serve in various positions in the university, including stints as a professor of marketing, interim dean of The Bush School of Government and Public Service and interim chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. He retired from the university in 2012.
In recognition of his decades of service, Mays Business School named the Cocanougher Special Events Center in honor of him and his wife, Dianne. The center provides the school with a premiere facility to host a variety of events, including luncheons and evening receptions.
Now, the couple has ensured a permanent source of support for the center by creating a $100,000 charitable gift annuity that will establish the Benton and Dianne Cocanougher Special Events Center Endowment. Funds from the endowment will assist with the center’s upkeep and maintenance, solidifying their impact for years to come.
“We knew we wanted to give back to the business school. We have supported athletics in the past, but we also wanted to do something on the academic side,” said Dr. Cocanougher. “A gift annuity was very appealing because we realized it would enable us to do more at this point in our lives. It was simply the best vehicle for us to do our part and further enhance the college.”
A charitable gift annuity is a contract by which an individual or a couple makes a gift of cash or securities and receives a lifetime of fixed payments from the Texas A&M Foundation in return. The donor or donors receive a charitable income tax deduction, a portion of their payments will be tax-free, and the remainder supports the Texas A&M area of their choosing. Dr. Cocanougher said he knows the gift will be well utilized by the school.
“I see Mays Business School continuing to further enhance its reputation,” he added. “Mays is already one of the leading business schools in the country, and I have enormous confidence in the college’s current leadership. I have no doubt that it will continue to progress in terms of its reputation and the product that it delivers: business graduates prepared to succeed.”
Cocanougher earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees in finance and marketing from the University of Texas at Austin, although he quickly notes with pride that both of his children and his daughter-in-law are Aggies. Upon his retirement, he was awarded the designations of Dean Emeritus and Professor Emeritus. A chair given in his honor by Peggy and Lowry Mays ’57 in 2009—the Benton Cocanougher Chair in Business—continues to support an eminent faculty holder at Mays Business School.
“This is a very exciting time for Texas A&M as its academic reputation continues to climb,” said Dr. Cocanougher. “It’s a special place and even those who didn’t go to school here quickly develop a real appreciation for this unique university and a sense of belonging. Former students and supporters made a huge impact on what our institution accomplished during my years as a leader at the university, and Dianne and I want to be part of this investment in the future of Texas A&M.”
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