Three classmates and former students of Texas A&M University have committed $100,000 each to the Texas A&M Foundation in support of the renovation and expansion of Texas A&M University’s Memorial Student Center (MSC).
Trent B. Latshaw of Tulsa, Okla., Terry W. Rathert of Magnolia, Texas, and Ted H. Smith of Wichita Falls, Texas, earned their petroleum engineering degrees from A&M in 1975. In recognition of their gifts, their names will be displayed on three adjacent pillars in the MSC.
Smith said the gift honors the special bonds they formed while in college as part of a 27-member class in petroleum engineering. “We all had the same classes together and studied together,” Smith said. “We stayed in touch over the years and have gotten back together for reunions regularly.”
The trio said the MSC served as a haven when they were in college. “The MSC was my home away from home,” Rathert said. “It was a nice place to get away and have a quiet moment. I’d check my mail box there and catch up with friends. It was a good meeting ground.”
Funded by the university, student fees and private gifts, the renovation began in 2009 and was completed ahead of schedule on April 21, 2012. The Foundation has raised $16 million of its $20 million MSC campaign goal, which will offset construction costs and fund MSC student programs.
The gift also was a chance for Smith and his wife Nancy, a 1976 graduate of Texas A&M, to honor her parents, Bill and Mary Lancaster. Bill Lancaster, who graduated in 1949, served as the assistant director of the MSC from 1963 to 1969. The Lancasters reside in College Station, Texas.
The men are thankful for the education they received in Texas A&M’s petroleum engineering department. “A&M’s petroleum engineering program has been at or near the top (in program rankings) forever,” Smith said. “A&M is the reason we’re all where we are in our careers. Giving back to the university is the right thing to do.”
The friends collaborated on a 2009 charitable gift to Texas A&M when they created and made lead donations to the Charles A. Rohan Memorial Scholarship in Petroleum Engineering in memory of a classmate.
Latshaw, Rathert and Smith were able to tour the MSC renovation and see their pillars at a special reopening ceremony April 21. “It’s beautiful,” Rathert said. “I can’t wait to see students enjoying this special place.”
The Texas A&M Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization that solicits and manages investments in academics and leadership programs to enhance Texas A&M’s capability to be among the best universities. To learn more about the MSC renovation and expansion project, contact David Wilkinson, senior director of major gifts for the Texas A&M Foundation, at firstname.lastname@example.org, (800) 392-3310 or (979) 845-8161.