March 9, 2018

Every year, hundreds of donors give back to Texas A&M University through planned gifts. Options range from bequests and charitable gift annuities to retirement account gifts. The possibilities and combinations are endless, allowing donors to choose a method that best suits their needs.

Marilyn and Steve Miller ’79

For Marilyn and Steve Miller ’79, a gift of life insurance provided a simple method to give back to Texas A&M. The couple purchased a new life insurance policy at a fraction of the cost of its future $1 million impact and named the Texas A&M Foundation as owner and beneficiary. After their lifetimes, the gift will create the Marilyn A. and Stephen W. Miller ’79 Petroleum Engineering Excellence Endowment and the Dr. William D. Von Gonten ’56 Memorial Scholarship.

Steve received his bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering before spending most of his career drilling wells for U.S. oil companies. Still active in the industry, Steve currently serves as senior vice president of drilling at Tapstone Energy based in Oklahoma City. Marilyn and Steve have two children, Kirby and Caleb ’20, a political science major, and two grandchildren.

“Simply put, we just wanted to give back,” Steve said. “This gift fits for us. We want to help students who are hard-working and deserving. We wanted to lend others a helping hand.”

The endowment will enhance the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering’s educational programs and experiential learning opportunities, benefiting both students and faculty. As an endowed fund, it will enhance engineering education in perpetuity.

William D. Von Gonten, former petroleum engineering department head and engineering professor, served as Miller’s mentor during his undergraduate years. “I remember sitting in Dr. Von Gonten’s office in my early days,” Steve said. “He told me I needed to buckle down, apply myself and live up to my potential. My grades weren’t great, but he took the time to encourage me. He believed I could do better. And I did!”

The memorial scholarship in Von Gonten’s honor will support the educational pursuits of petroleum engineering students. Distributions from this endowment will provide one or more scholarships to full-time students pursuing petroleum engineering degrees at Texas A&M.

Four ways to make a gift of life insurance to support Texas A&M:

  1. Transfer ownership of an existing policy and designate the Foundation as beneficiary.
  2. Purchase a new policy, like the Millers, with the Foundation as owner and beneficiary.
  3. Retain ownership of an existing policy and change the beneficiary designation to the Foundation.
  4. Designate the Foundation as partial beneficiary of a new or existing life insurance policy.

Giving a gift of life insurance is one of the simplest ways to benefit Texas A&M without using many of today’s dollars. The Millers’ planned gift exemplifies their commitment to Texas A&M and their belief in Aggie engineers.

“If gifts like these are appropriate for your budget, it’s a unique and easy way to give back,” Steve said. “Marilyn and I hope the gift provides support and encouragement for students down the road. We love Texas A&M—the students, faculty, programs and departments. It’s truly a great place.”

To learn more about life insurance gifts or to support the College of Engineering through a planned gift, contact Kevin Westerman '11 in the Office of Gift Planning using the form below or click the button to request an estate and gift planning kit today.