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Spirit is published three times per year by the Texas A&M Foundation, which manages major gifts and endowments for the benefit of academic programs, scholarships and student activities at Texas A&M University.

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Movers, Shakers and Dream Makers

By Savanna Hoover '18

Spirit Student Worker

Ann '79 and Rodney Boehm '78                                                                                                                            

Rodney: Associate Professor of Practice and Director of Engineering Entrepreneurship, College of Engineering
Ann: Independent Marketing Consultant
Support to Texas A&M: Ann ’79 and Rodney ’78 Boehm Endowed Opportunity Award Scholarship
 
Ann '79 and Rodney Boehm '78 established an Endowed Opportunity Award for former foster care students through a planned gift.

The Boehms met at Fish Camp in 1976. As a “square” engineer, Rodney felt he didn’t stand a chance, but a few dates later and the rest—as they say—is history. Today, the successful couple is committed to each other, their family of six children and six grandchildren (with three more due this summer!), and supporting Texas A&M students. To call them anything less than vivacious would be an understatement: Even after 40 years of marriage, they constantly joke with each other.

Ann and Rodney returned to College Station in 2009, when Rodney was hired by Texas A&M to be a mentor, then an associate professor of practice for engineering entrepreneurship. In this role, he shares the knowledge he gained after 30 years in the telecommunications industry and five years at a startup with students of all levels. He has designed and implemented new opportunities for Aggie engineers to excel and test their skills inside and outside of the classroom through entrepreneurial events such as Aggies Invent, Invent for the Planet and Aggie Boss Talk. His slogan? “The sun never sets on innovation.” He is passionate about preparing students for jobs that have yet to be defined.

Meanwhile, Ann became involved with the Bryan chapter of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), in which she volunteered as an advocate for children in the foster care system. Earlier in their marriage, the Boehms were foster parents and cared for several newborns during their transition from birth to adoption. The couple saw a need for increased support of foster care children who “age out” of foster care at age 18 and choose to attend Texas A&M. The state of Texas provides a tuition waiver, but these students have no support for other necessities such as food, shelter and incidental expenses associated with college.

To bridge the gap, Ann and Rodney created an Endowed Opportunity Award through a bequest that will support a former foster care student pursuing an engineering degree at Texas A&M. For Ann, it was also important that there was only a minimum grade stipulation, so that students who are struggling but still doing their best can receive the support they need. The couple feels it’s important that faculty be stakeholders in the university and its future.

“Foster children are coming in on the sidelines,” Ann said. “It’s important to say, ‘You have a place at the table and there’s funding for you, not because you’re the best student, but because you’re here.’ Our goal was to tear down barriers and make college more accessible.”

Dr. William Bassichis

Physics Professor and Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence, College of Science
Support to Texas A&M: William H. Bassichis Chair for Teaching Excellence in Physics and Astronomy

Dr. William Bassichis has taught at Texas A&M since 1970. He contributed to a faculty chair for teaching excellence in physics and astronomy in his name. 

Dr. William Bassichis has taught more than 10,000 engineering students in his 47-year tenure at Texas A&M University, and passion is always at the heart of his classroom. Upon his arrival to Texas A&M in 1970, he reintroduced physics courses for engineering students. He even created a new textbook series, “Don’t Panic: A Guide to Introductory Physics for Students of Science and Engineering,” that many students say are the most helpful textbooks they've ever encountered.

In 2001, a Fish Camp was named in his honor. “My office was filled with blue balloons, and I didn’t understand how they got there, so I went to class and started teaching. Then, in the middle of the lecture, someone hands me a net. They held a sign that read, 'Camp Bassichis,' and it all came together: I was a Fish Camp namesake! I went to the camp and it was a beautiful thing to see all these students, even those who were reluctant at first, participating in yells.”

The surprises continued in 2003 when Bassichis was one of the first two Texas A&M faculty to be awarded the newly-created rank of Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence. “While I was teaching, in comes the department head, the dean of science, former president Robert Gates and cameras! Gates said to my class, ‘Your professor is the best teacher on campus,’ and one of my students embarrassed me by shouting out, ‘We knew that!’”

The following year, Bassichis established the physics program at Texas A&M Qatar, where he was voted “favorite professor” by students. He also helped found the Texas A&M Mentors Program and volunteered as an academic adviser for the Corps of Cadets. Recently, Bassichis partnered with a Ph.D. student to produce 90 online videos demonstrating the best way to work through physics problems.

One motivation for Bassichis’ commitment to teaching is his family. “My six-year-old grandson told me, ‘If you’re still alive, I’ll go to Texas A&M,’” he said. “I want Texas A&M to be a place where I would be proud to have my grandchildren attend.”

The faculty chair for teaching excellence in his name began with a donation from a former student who felt Bassichis had changed his life. Matching funds were contributed while Dr. Ed Fry, a fellow physics professor, orchestrated more donations from family, former students and friends. Bassichis decided to give the remainder in a planned gift of his own to support what matters most to student matriculation: A professor devoted to teaching.

Drs. Kim '84 and Larry Dooley '75

Larry: Associate Professor of Educational Administration & Human Resource Development, College of Education and Human Development
Kim: Associate Dean of Academic Operations, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Professor of Agricultural Leadership, Education & Communications
Support to Texas A&M: COADC Larry M. Dooley ’75 and Kim E. Dooley ’84 Undergraduate Scholarship in International Agricultural Development
 
Drs. Kim '84 and Larry Dooley '75 combined their academic interests to establish an endowed scholarship for undergraduate students in international agricultural development.

Kim and Larry Dooley are dedicated to developing the next generation of Aggies and are even godparents to some of their students’ children. Their favorite thing about being professors? Watching their pupils excel and carry on the Aggie Spirit. 

Larry’s dad and uncle graduated from Texas A&M in 1939 and 1944, respectively. Three of his mother’s five brothers are also Aggies, including Jim McCoy ’40, who was commandant during the 1960s. General Earl Rudder ’32 frequently visited their family home while J. Malon Southerland ’65, later the vice president of student affairs, gave Larry a personal campus tour as a high school senior.

While Larry was a cadet in Company B-2 in the Corps of Cadets, Kim found her community in vocal music through the Reveiller’s jazz group and the Century Singers. After winning the 1984 Miss Texas A&M University pageant, Kim pursued a master’s degree in education and later met Larry.

As faculty members, they support international education. Larry teaches active-duty military personnel through online classes and has taught courses in Mexico City and Saudi Arabia. Kim enjoys leading study abroad trips for undergraduates who have never traveled abroad. “It’s not just about the content,” she said. “It’s about changing the heart. You never come back the same.”

The Dooleys’ most recent gift, counted during the Lead by Example campaign, is an endowed scholarship for undergraduate students in international agricultural development. “We have a passion for working in international settings and giving opportunities for students to be global citizens,” said Kim. “We want Aggies to be society-ready and capable of interacting with diverse people.” Their gift was matched by the College of Agriculture Development Council.

Previously, the Dooleys established an endowed scholarship for graduate students in agriculture to commemorate Larry’s father. They have also funded an Aggie Ring for a Navy veteran; contributed to the Howard Hesby Atrium in the Kleberg Animal and Food Sciences Center; and helped fund the “Shaping the Future” statue in front of Harrington Tower, which was the first statue on campus to feature women and children. Their two daughters left their marks by putting their thumbprints in the clay foundation.

Dr. Duane Ireland

Executive Associate Dean, Mays Business School
Support to Texas A&M: Mrs. Mary Ann and Dr. R. Duane Ireland and Family Endowed Scholarship
 
The Ireland family's gift will support a student pursuing a graduate degree in the entrepreneurial leadership track of the Professional Program of Accounting.

For Duane Ireland and his family, giving is about creating opportunity: “We like to imagine what this scholarship could lead to. It’s always a positive image of what someone might achieve with a little extra support: Perhaps our recipients will establish a nonprofit that will serve individuals in desperate situations or champion a cause such as adult literacy.”

Ireland has devoted his academic career to researching and teaching about strategic management and entrepreneurship. He believes that “entrepreneurship is an engine of growth that helps economies and individuals reach their potential.”

Ireland started out as a first-generation college student. He was drawn to studying business in college due to a novel problem: Why can some firms acquire other companies and be very successful while others are not successful when completing the same activity? “I’ve always wanted to understand and analyze business scenarios,” he said.

In 2004, Ireland came to Texas A&M on an endowed chair to teach strategic management. He has served as head of the Department of Management and as editor of the Academy of Management Journal; he now serves as executive associate dean of Mays Business School. Part of his role includes teaching an executive class in Houston.

The Ireland family’s gift will support a business student pursuing a graduate degree in the entrepreneurial leadership track of the Professional Program of Accounting. He and his wife, Mary Ann, decided to give their scholarship in honor of their family. “Entrepreneurship is exciting,” said Ireland. “It’s exciting to see individuals who commit to launching their own business and those who help corporations become more innovative. Today, the number of students who start an entrepreneurial venture while in college is increasing. I enjoy watching them develop and succeed. It’s fascinating to see the products they choose to create and launch.”

Dr. Victoria Pho, BS, PharmD, BCGP

Clinical Pharmacy Assistant Professor, Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy
Support to Texas A&M: Mai Nguyen Endowed Scholarship
 
Dr. Victoria Pho established a memorial scholarship in honor of her mother, Mai Nguyen.

Dr. Victoria Pho’s mother, Mai Nguyen, brought her to America as a Vietnam War refugee when she was nine months old, along with her three older siblings and her cousin.

Despite her lack of education and ability to speak English, Mai started over in America and raised her children by working odd jobs and emphasizing four core values: be a good citizen, be a good parent, be a good educator, and find ways to give and serve. She always stressed the importance of having an education, a good heart and kind thoughts. Mai’s advice: “Money comes and goes, but no one can take your education away.” All her children took this to heart.

Now a clinical pharmacy assistant professor at the Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy, Pho teaches students in the classroom and on clinical rotations. When possible, she also invests time in her real estate and photography work. Pho is married to a physician, Dr. Khoa Nguyen, and the couple has three daughters: Elizabeth, Catherine and Victoria. 

Being kind is a central tenet of Pho’s life, and she feels that her mother’s values align with Texas A&M’s core values. “My role as an educator at Texas A&M brought great joy to my mom, and it makes me happy to know I made her proud,” said Pho. “I’m in a profession where I can foster great values in both a clinical and academic setting. I show my students how to have a caring heart as they serve their patients.”

Mai’s health began to decline last year, and she passed away in October 2017. “In her last few days, I told her I would do my best as a daughter, mom, wife and teacher,” said Pho. “After kissing her on the forehead for the last time, I promised that Khoa and I would create a scholarship to honor her for all the blessings she gave me, and that together she and I would continue to make a difference through education.

“Mai means ‘a beautiful flower,’ and she loved to have beautiful memories. I hope this scholarship will embody her beauty as a mother, educator and giver.”

The Mai Nguyen Endowed Scholarship will support pharmacy students with proven leadership skills who are pursuing careers as pharmacy educators with a geriatric focus. “I have one word for my life: empower,” said Pho. "Every minute counts, every moment matters and every effort makes a difference. Even when life gets challenging, I want to empower loved ones, students and patients to find hope, purpose and joy.”

During the Lead by Example campaign, which began as Texas A&M University’s third comprehensive fundraising campaign on Jan. 1, 2012, faculty and staff have contributed more than $36 million to the campaign’s $4 billion goal. The current campaign total stands at $3.2 billion as of June 30, 2018.

Contact:

Dunae Crenwelge '15

Marketing Communications Manager/Spirit Editor