COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS—The Texas A&M Foundation has selected Dr. Henry L. “Sonny” Presnal ’57, longtime director of the Stevenson Companion Animal Life-Care Center in the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), as a recipient of its 2020 Partner in Philanthropy Award. Presnal received the award for his lifelong devotion to Texas A&M University and the Stevenson Center at a presentation on Feb. 27.
The award was initially established by the Foundation’s Board of Trustees in 2016 as the Partner in Philanthropy Faculty Award to celebrate faculty members who demonstrate dedicated and lasting participation, commitment and creative leadership to philanthropy and Texas A&M University. Recently, the award’s criteria were expanded to honor Texas A&M staff members as well, with the name amended to reflect the new criteria. Presnal is the first non-faculty member to receive the award.
To be selected, Texas A&M faculty or staff must be nominated by a member of the Texas A&M Foundation development staff. Dr. O.J. “Bubba” Woytek ’64, assistant vice president of development and alumni relations for the CVM, nominated Presnal for the award. “I’ve worked with Sonny for most of my career, and he is an invaluable member of our team and what we do at the CVM,” Woytek said.
“Dr. Presnal is the living embodiment of the Aggie core value of selfless service,” added Tyson Voelkel ’96, president of the Texas A&M Foundation. “We’re talking about a man who has spent the overwhelming majority of his life serving those around him, serving his community and serving Texas A&M however he could. People like Sonny make this university very special.”
In his 21 years as director of the Stevenson Center, Presnal has played a critical role in building philanthropic relationships for the center as well as for the CVM and Texas A&M University at large. He has also helped build the Stevenson Center’s impressive endowment, which now exceeds $20 million. Woytek added that Presnal was directly and indirectly responsible for approximately $22.5 million in current endowments for the Stevenson Center as well as many more future endowments from the animals enrolled currently to enter the center in the future.
“You won’t find someone more passionate about Texas A&M and his work than Dr. Presnal,” said Otway Denny ’71, chairman of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees. “He has seen the university evolve over half a century, and he has remained a believer in its people and its mission the entire time. You couldn’t ask for a better ambassador for the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, and you couldn’t ask for a more deserving recipient of this award.”
In addition to fostering private giving to the Stevenson Center and Texas A&M, Presnal has also established a $50,000 planned gift in his will to create an endowed scholarship for students pursuing a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine who are married and have children. He supports Texas A&M athletics through the 12th Man Foundation and local youths participating in 4-H Club work. Furthermore, he created an endowed Aggie ring scholarship through The Association of Former Students in honor of his late wife, Lou. He plans to direct his $10,000 Partner in Philanthropy monetary award toward that endowment to fund more rings for future Aggies.
“While I’m extremely honored, I don’t consider this award being for me, specifically,” Presnal said. “I look at it as an award for the Stevenson Center program and all of my staff and students for what they have done. Someone has to receive the award, so that’s my role. But we’re all very appreciative of the recognition of the program by the Texas A&M Foundation.”
Born and raised in Bryan-College Station, Presnal earned dual bachelor’s degrees in animal husbandry in 1957 and veterinary science in 1968. Upon returning from his eight years of service in the U.S. Army, he returned to Texas A&M to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 1969 before establishing a private practice in Bryan. He was an organizing director and chairman of the board of a local bank from 1981 until 1997.
Presnal became director of the Stevenson Center in 1998. Publicized as a “retirement home for pets,” the Stevenson Center provides physical, emotional and medical needs for companion animals whose owners are no longer able to provide them with care. There are more than 650 animals enrolled to receive care from the center when their owners can no longer care for them. Additionally, 109 animals have lived out their lives at the center, while there are currently 29 animals living at the center.
As an ambassador for the Stevenson Center, Presnal routinely travels throughout Texas and other states to visit current and potential donors and conduct speaking engagements and presentations on the center’s behalf. When he’s not traveling, he still spends much of his time on weekly phone calls to donors, updating them about developments to the center and staying in touch.
Stevenson Companion Animal Life-Care Center
To learn more about the Stevenson Companion Animal Life-Care Center, visit https://vetmed.tamu.edu/stevenson-center/.
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.