In celebration of the 80th anniversary of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Texas A&M University, Sugar and Mike Barnes have established a major endowment to support the general operations of the department. In recognition of their generous donations that exceed $10 million, the department has been named the Wm Michael Barnes ’64 Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. An event commemorating the naming will take place in September.
“With this wonderful gift, Mike and Sugar have placed themselves among Texas A&M’s leading visionary philanthropists. There’s something very special about a naming gift. By willingly lending their names to this important endowment, they have demonstrated the importance of a former student giving back to students of the future,” said Michael K. Young, president of Texas A&M. “We’re all very grateful that their extraordinary generosity will continue to elevate an already excellent department.”
Barnes was named a Distinguished Alumnus by Texas A&M and The Association of Former Students in 2016 for excellence in his profession and meaningful contributions to Texas A&M and the community. This honor has only been bestowed upon 303 Aggie graduates since 1962.
Barnes received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial engineering and his doctoral degree in operations research, all from Texas A&M. He was the second doctoral graduate from the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering in 1968. The department’s doctoral program began in the mid 1960s under Dr. A.W. Wortham, who served as Barnes’ doctoral advisor. While a student at Texas A&M, Barnes served as president of Alpha Pi Mu and has been a member of Tau Beta Pi since 1964.
Early in his career, Barnes represented Texas A&M as an expert consultant to the assistant postmaster general in Washington, D.C. and was an instructor of maintainability engineering at Red River Army Depot. He began his corporate career at Rockwell International, where he worked for 33 years, becoming senior vice president and chief financial officer. During his tenure at Rockwell, he was awarded the Leonardo da Vinci Annual Award, given to an outstanding engineer working at Rockwell. After his retirement in 2001, Barnes began serving on the board of four New York Stock Exchange-listed companies.
Barnes has been recognized as an Outstanding Alumni by the College of Engineering and the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. In 2009, the Texas Council of Industrial Engineering Department Heads awarded Barnes its inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award.
“Mike and Sugar Barnes care deeply about Texas A&M and ensuring a top-quality engineering education for generations of students to come,” said Dr. M. Katherine Banks, College of Engineering vice chancellor and dean. “We deeply appreciate their generous support and are proud to have Barnes’ name affiliated with our industrial and systems engineering program.”
The Barnes family previously endowed a department head chair and professorship in the department and have funded professorships and labs at Texas A&M through the Rockwell Foundation. They have also hosted fundraising events at their homes in southern California and Texas to support Texas A&M and Texas A&M Athletics.
"Sugar and I have been fortunate in our business careers and are honored to be recognized as supporters of Texas A&M and its world-class engineering college,” said Barnes. “We have benefitted from mentors and the quality education and moral compass acquired at Texas A&M. We are proud to join the many other benefactors who have and will continue to give back to this wonderful institution."
His family includes his wife, Sugar, son, Wm Bradley ’90, and two grandsons, Wm Alexander and Wm Luke.