The nine-year $4 billion Lead by Example campaign, the most ambitious higher education capital campaign in Texas history, concluded Dec. 31, 2020, having raised $4.25 billion for Texas A&M University students, faculty and staff.
 

Publicly launched in 2015 as a joint effort between Texas A&M and its affiliate fundraising organizations—the Texas A&M Foundation, The Association of Former Students, the 12th Man Foundation, the George & Barbara Bush Foundation, and the Texas Aggie Corps of Cadets Association—Lead by Example set out to raise $4 billion and cement the university’s standing as a world-class, top-tier public research institution for generations to come. The university began counting gifts to the campaign on Jan. 1, 2012.

Lead by Example represented a notable paradigm shift for Texas A&M,” said Interim President John Junkins. “It pushed forward an institution-wide evolution by strengthening high-impact research initiatives; funding significant updates to academic and athletic facilities; creating life-changing endowed scholarships and chairs for students and faculty; and bolstering traditions and programs that make Aggieland a world-renowned campus environment.”

 

Who Gave to the Campaign?

What Did Campaign Gifts Support?

Donors gave more than 903,600 gifts to Texas A&M during the campaign, creating 3,364 new endowments supporting scholarships and fellowships, student and college programs, faculty chairs and professorships, and more. Former students went above and beyond in supporting their alma mater, contributing more than 60% of campaign gifts, while nearly 40% of gifts came from non-alumni and other public and private foundations.

Notably, current and former Aggie faculty and staff gave $61 million, demonstrating their belief in Texas A&M’s value to its local and global communities. Approximately $1.1 billion was committed in estate gifts, which will play a crucial role in securing the university’s future.

Of the $4.2 billion raised, $2.8 billion was given toward academic initiatives, with 2,677 new endowed scholarships created in the process. Many programs, such as the Norman Borlaug Endowed Research Scholars Program established by a $1 million gift from Cactus Feeders, encourage students to not only pursue career opportunities but to also conduct work for the good of mankind. Others, such as the Science Leadership Scholars, help first-generation and low-income students by providing financial assistance as well as a life-changing learning community.

gifts contributed by individual, corporate and foundation donors
contributed by current and former Texas A&M faculty and staff
committed through individuals' estate plans
new endowed scholarships and graduate fellowships
new endowed faculty chairs, professorships and fellowships
other endowments supporting campus programs

One of the campaign’s landmark gifts arrived when Jon L. Hagler ’58 committed $20 million to name the Hagler Institute for Advanced Study, which invites nationally and internationally prominent scholars to pursue their studies at Texas A&M with the option to take on permanent positions after one year. The Hagler Institute attracts high-caliber researchers to College Station, providing a catalyst to enrich Texas A&M’s intellectual climate overall; thus far, 11 Hagler Fellows have joined the Texas A&M faculty. “I have a profound and longstanding belief in the power of education and the institutions that generate knowledge,” Hagler said. “I don’t think there’s anything more important to successful democracy or advancing civilization than institutions of education.”

The Bush School for Government and Public Service took great strides forward during the campaign. After receiving $6.25 million from the Charles Koch Foundation and Texas A&M University System Regent Robert Albritton ’71, the Bush School opened its Albritton Center for Grand Strategy, an intellectual hub for the critical examination of U.S. foreign policy. Thanks to a similarly generous gift from the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation, a new satellite teaching site opened in Washington, D.C., for working Beltway professionals seeking a public service education worthy of the Texas A&M name.

Improvements during the campaign did not stop with the university’s academics, as Texas A&M raised $550 million for new facilities and improvements to iconic campus landmarks. Thanks to $20 million in donor support, the Quad, home to the Corps of Cadets, received a massive overhaul. The completed renovations to the Zachry Engineering Education Complex provided state-of-the-art resources and signified a step forward for the College of Engineering. Substantial renovations to the “living room of Texas A&M,” the Memorial Student Center, provided a warm, accommodating space for students’ social needs and studies. On West Campus, the first phases of The Gardens project were completed, offering a meditative green space and “living classroom” for horticultural disciplines. Finally, Texas A&M’s music programs were united for the first time under one roof with the opening of the new John D. White ’70 – Robert L. Walker ’58 Music Activities Center.

  • Zachry Engineering Education Complex

    The August 2018 unveiling of the Zachry Engineering Education Complex, the largest academic building on campus, signaled an impressive moment for the future of Texas A&M engineering education. The completion of the four-year, $228 million project came with the help of more than $75 million in private donations.
  • Quad Renovation

    During the campaign, the Corps of Cadets completed an overhaul of the Quad's dorms and added four Leadership Learning Centers. These 17,000-square-foot facilities provide cadets with state-of-the-art features, including group and individual study rooms, computer labs, tutoring rooms, lounges and even a Starbucks. The centers were funded through more than $20 million in private donations.
  • Music Activities Center

    After a successful fundraising campaign that raised more than $21 million, the John D. White ’70 – Robert L. Walker ’58 Music Activities Center opened in August 2019 after 20 months of construction. The 70,000-square-foot building provides a new home to the more than 1,300 Aggies who are part of Texas A&M’s orchestras, choral groups and bands.
  • The Leach Teaching Gardens

    The Gardens at Texas A&M University is a planned transformation of 27 acres on West Campus into a public teaching garden. Thanks to the generosity of Amy ’84 and Tim Leach ’82, phase I of the project, called the Leach Teaching Gardens, opened in 2018. These first 7 acres feature 21 themed sections, an outdoor classroom, event lawn, demonstration area, and a climate-controlled pavilion used for events and educational classes.
  • Hildebrand Equine Complex

    Thanks to more than $32 million from donors, construction of the Thomas G. Hildebrand DVM ’56 Equine Complex was completed in 2014. Since then, the complex has functioned as the on-campus home for equine teaching, research and outreach and provided a dedicated space for Texas A&M’s elite Equestrian Team.
  • Dentistry Clinic and Education Building

    The College of Dentistry raised more than $10 million to construct a new nine-story, 167,000-square-foot Clinic and Education Building in Dallas. With the building’s grand opening in January 2020, the dental school can expand enrollment, treat more patients and address the need for more dental health professionals across the state.
  • Kyle Field

    The two-year $485 million renovation of Kyle Field represented the most extensive redevelopment of a collegiate athletic facility in history. The result, thanks to more than $220 million in gifts from 12th Man Foundation donors, is the finest college football stadium in the country and one that is considered the crown jewel of collegiate athletics.
  • Davis Diamond

    In 2019, Texas A&M celebrated the official opening of the $28.6 million Davis Diamond for Aggie softball. The stadium holds 2,000 fans and includes club level seating, luxury suites, new locker rooms, a training room, an indoor hitting facility and a new press box.
  • E.B. Cushing Stadium

    The $39.6 million E.B. Cushing Stadium for outdoor track and field also opened in 2019. The stadium has an initial seating capacity of 2,200 and features hospitality amenities, a press box, meeting rooms, locker rooms, an athlete lounge, a training room, official’s quarters, equipment storage, and a grand lobby highlighting the championship history of Aggie track and field.

More than $350 million was given by donors to the 12th Man Foundation’s Annual Fund, which supports Texas A&M athletic programs. Due to more than $283 million in contributions, a number of campus athletic facilities received remarkable makeovers as well. The successful renovation of Kyle Field transformed the beloved Home of the 12th Man into the fifth-largest stadium in the world by capacity and the nation’s preeminent college football venue. Texas A&M’s track and field and softball programs found new homes in the $39.6 million E.B. Cushing Stadium and $28.6 million Davis Diamond, respectively. And in 2014, the Thomas G. Hildebrand, DVM ’56 Equine Complex was completed, providing world-class equestrian grounds for the 11-time national champion Aggie equestrian team.

In July 2015, the 12th Man Foundation also launched the 1922 Fund to endow scholarships for all Texas A&M student-athletes. Donors committed $2.7 million during the fund’s inaugural year and, by the end of the campaign, the fund balance grew to approximately $14 million. “The Lead by Example campaign has been transformational for Texas A&M and our athletic programs,” said Travis Dabney ’96, president of the 12th Man Foundation. “The significant investment by donors has changed the landscape for Texas A&M athletics and allowed us to attract top-quality student-athletes and leaders in coaching and administration.”

During the campaign, 64% of total funds raised were contributed by former students, emphasizing the loyalty and power of the Aggie Network.

Porter Garner III ’79, president of The Association of Former Students, lauded the Aggie Network’s efforts during the campaign. Through contributions from 140,000 individuals, The Association exceeded its goal to raise $100 million during the campaign by raising $143 million. These funds support university-directed programs through The Association’s Annual Fund.

“The Lead by Example campaign has engaged more Aggies in support of Texas A&M than ever before in history,” Garner said. “The loyal generosity of the Aggie Network throughout the campaign continues to make a difference for Texas A&M and for so many things we hold dear as Aggies.”

As Texas A&M looks toward a new era for the world and university alike, it has the collective support of its renowned Aggie community to thank for its ongoing success. Despite the extraordinary economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, donor support remained steadfast throughout the last year of the Lead by Example campaign; contributions totaled $476 million in 2020 alone.

Community support did not always come in dollars, either; students dedicated approximately 12 million reported volunteer hours during the campaign, helping others and leading by example. According to Tyson Voelkel ’96, president of the Texas A&M Foundation, it will be future generations who will be impacted by this generation’s philanthropic investment.

“Four billion dollars is an impressive number, but it is the positive human impact that speaks greater volumes,” said Voelkel. “The Lead by Example campaign shattered records because countless Aggies and friends of Texas A&M University believe in its mission. They believe in our university’s humble beginnings, our values, and Texas A&M’s ability to create an exponentially brighter future for our state, nation and world. This campaign proves that the Aggie Spirit and Texas A&M’s mission to educate principled leaders of character is still alive and well.”

Additional highlights from the campaign are available at leadbyexample.tamu.edu.

Texas A&M Foundation

The Texas A&M Foundation is a nonprofit organization that aspires to be among the most trusted philanthropies in higher education. It builds a brighter future for Texas A&M University, one relationship at a time. To learn more, visit txamfoundation.com.

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