March 27, 2024

Kriss Kirchhoff ’78 has always been an eager learner with an untamed curiosity. He attended Texas A&M University in fall 1974 with plans to major in biology but switched to engineering halfway through his college career. “The engineering curriculum is very different from that of a biology major,” explained Kirchhoff, who ended up graduating in 1979 after taking multiple summer classes to complete his degree.

With an engineering degree in hand, the new graduate pursued a successful 30-year career with Hewlett-Packard (HP), quickly rising through the ranks from engineer to senior management. His time at HP not only satisfied his desire to grow his engineering knowledge but also scratched another itch: his love for travel. Kirchhoff and his family followed his job across the country from Dallas-Fort Worth to Idaho and even across the Atlantic to Holland for a few years.

"By funding the gift with my IRA after my lifetime, more money will go to work for the university and less to taxes."
Kriss Kirchhoff '78

In 2007, 28 years after leaving College Station, Kirchhoff returned to Aggieland with his wife, Denise, and their youngest son to tour the campus in hopes he might follow in his father’s maroon footsteps. While that plan didn’t pan out, the former student’s reconnection with Texas A&M planted a new thought: giving back. “That campus visit inspired my interest in supporting those who are passionate about the same technology, science and business research that drew me in as a student and that I still enjoy learning about today,” he shared.

Kirchhoff knew he wanted to use his IRA to fund a gift after his lifetime to support research. “I’m not an accountant, but the tax benefits of using an IRA made sense,” he said. “By funding the gift with my IRA after my lifetime, more money will go to work for the university and less to taxes since inherited beneficiaries’ withdrawals from a traditional IRA are taxed as ordinary income. When gifted to charities like the Texas A&M Foundation, the charity realizes the full value of the gift.”

What Kirchhoff wasn’t sure about was where to direct his gift. Working with the Texas A&M Foundation’s team, he researched numerous opportunities and returned to campus again in 2018 to meet with faculty, staff and department heads to learn more. “Visiting with professors helped me gain a firsthand perspective of what my gift would support one day,” he said.

After much consideration, Kirchhoff decided to divide his gift to support graduate student programs and research in computer science, electrical and biomedical engineering, and marine biology and finance—two additional areas he’s developed a passion for over the years.

Today, he finds many ways to stay active in his interests through either worldwide scuba diving trips with Denise or using his financial experience as a private investor. When he and Denise aren’t looking for their next adventure, they enjoy spending time with their daughter’s family in Idaho or visiting their two sons across the country.

And even though it’s been another six years since the former student stepped foot on campus, his reignited flame for Aggieland still burns bright. Through a rediscovery of his countless passions and exploration of university programs that will grow them, his planned gift has planted many seeds that will take root on campus and share his enthusiasm for learning with generations of Aggies to come.

Interested in planning a gift to support your passions in Aggieland? Contact our team at 979.845.8161 or