Articles tagged as: endowment
The Levant Foundation of Houston has donated $1 million to establish a professorship, fellowship and research endowment at Texas A&M University’s George Bush School of Government and Public Service. The gift, funded through the Texas A&M Foundation, will promote the study of the Middle East.
The professorship, fellowship and research endowment are named for Jamal Daniel, who founded The Levant Foundation. Daniel, who was born in Syria and lived in Lebanon during his childhood, is president and chairman of Houston-based Crest Investment Co. The Levant Foundation’s mission is to further knowledge of the Middle East’s culture and history as well as the interrelations of its three monotheistic religions, Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
Jamal and his wife Rania also have donated to the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation through The Levant Foundation. In recognition of their gifts, the dining room at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center was named The Rania and Jamal Daniel Presidential Dining Room. The center, located adjacent to the Bush School and Library, accommodates conferences, banquets, lectures and performances for the Bush library and other Texas A&M events.
That gift prompted Jamal Daniel to have a conversation with Bush School officials about creating a gift to support the school’s academic program. These discussions led to the creation of the professorship, fellowship and research endowment.
The gift will provide Bush School students and faculty the opportunity to learn more about the complex environment in the Middle East. “Our hope is that The Levant Foundation will enhance the education of Texas A&M students to arm them with a greater depth of substantive knowledge in addressing Middle Eastern affairs,” said Sonny Hudson, executive director of The Levant Foundation. “As evidenced by the crisis in Syria and with high tension in Lebanon, Turkey, Palestine, Jordan and Israel, a better understanding of this region’s people and history is key to finding diplomatic solutions and lasting peaceful stability for the region and ultimately the world. Better prepared scholars, diplomats, politicians, and military and government officers will take the mantle of leadership in the years to come.”
The Texas A&M Foundation is a private nonprofit organization that solicits and manages investments in academics and leadership programs at Texas A&M. To learn more about scholarships, fellowships, and other academic- and student program-focused giving to benefit Texas A&M, contact the Foundation at (800) 392-3310 or (979) 845-8161.
Future high school students in Washington County have good reason to study hard and develop leadership skills — they may be eligible for Texas A&M University scholarships to be funded through a bequest by a Brenham-born Aggie and true believer in higher education.
Bill Seeker, who earned two degrees from Texas A&M, had announced his intention to fund at least five President’s Endowed Scholarships (PES) after his lifetime through a planned gift created through the Texas A&M Foundation. Seeker said he also plans to add an endowment for Florida Keys Community College, where he served as president for 28 years.
“In the past 50 years I’ve either been a student, professor, dean, vice president or president, which illustrates my passion for higher education,” he said. “But I’ve also picked cotton, swept floors, worked on a road crew and commanded an Army platoon. I know firsthand what a college education can do for young people. I’m proud that I will help students from my hometown of Brenham attend Texas A&M University.”
Seeker structured his planned gift to fund President’s Endowed Scholarships by designating a percentage of his individual retirement account (IRA) to the Texas A&M Foundation. After his lifetime, these assets will transfer free from income tax to the Foundation. Such IRA assets are ideal to fund scholarships and other charitable gifts after a lifetime because no estate or income tax is levied on gifts to nonprofits. The Foundation will invest the assets, which will generate interest to fund scholarships forever.
Funded with a minimum contribution of $100,000, President’s Endowed Scholarships are awarded to students with strong academic and leadership potential. Financial need is not considered, and the scholarship includes a one-time grant for a study-abroad experience.
More than 900 Aggies attending Texas A&M benefit from the PES program. To qualify, these students must have a minimum SAT score of 1300, minimum ACT score of 30, or be a finalist, semifinalist or commended National Merit Scholar. They must have demonstrated strong leadership in high school and in their communities. Each recipient of the PES may keep it for four years, and then another student will receive it for up to four years. The process continues in perpetuity.
Seeker is the grandson of German immigrants and the first in his family to attend college.
“I’m just a country bumpkin who lived on a dirt road in rural Washington County,” he said. “My father Albert was a highly decorated WWII veteran who worked as laborer and my mother Sue was a nurse’s attendant. I didn’t even know I was poor until my first year at Texas A&M — until then I thought I was a big shot. I figured out right away that not only was I poor, but I didn’t know a lot about society.
“If they can meet the stringent requirements of a PES, I want to give students from Brenham and Burton high schools the same experience I had at Texas A&M. These kids have strong family values. They believe in studying and making something of themselves. I know they have the ability and I know they can use the help.”
Once established, the William A. Seeker President’s Endowed Scholarships will give preference to members of Texas A&M’s Corps of Cadets who are graduates of Washington County high schools, including his alma mater, Brenham High School.
“I am a former executive officer of the sometimes infamous Animal A Infantry at Texas A&M,” he said. “My experience as a cadet and later as a professional soldier shaped me into the man I am today. It’s part of the reason I can give back, and it’s the reason I want my scholarships to benefit future cadets.”
In 1960, after earning an A&M education degree with an emphasis in biology, Seeker was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army. He served as a paratrooper and later reached the rank of captain, commanding a platoon in the 22nd Battle Group, Strategic Army Command.
“We were the soldiers sent in to do dirty jobs,” he said. “I spent time in Germany during the 1961 Berlin Crisis and was involved in many other military operations, most of which I can’t talk about.”
After two years of active duty, he worked as a research technician for M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and then completed a master’s degree in biology on the GI Bill at Sam Houston State University. He taught biology at New Mexico Military Institute and later earned a Ph.D. at Texas A&M in educational administration.
For several years, Seeker was vice president at Florida’s Hillsborough Community College and in 1979 became president of Florida Keys Community College (FKCC).
Affectionately known as “Doc” at FKCC, Seeker oversaw the development and expansion of many academic programs, student services and college facilities. During his tenure, he garnered legislative support and $40 million to fund the 1997 rebuilding of the Key West Campus, which now bears his name. Upon his retirement in 2007, he was bestowed the title of president emeritus by the FKCC board of trustees. He still resides on Florida’s Cudjoe Key, where he enjoys snorkeling with barracudas and sharks near the reef adjacent to his backyard beach.
This year he shared formal plans with FKCC to substantially increase his bequest, directing the majority of his estate toward the creation of three endowments to provide scholarships, library funds and instructional equipment.
Seeker’s gift to Texas A&M qualifies him for Heritage membership in the A&M Legacy Society, which honors those who have created planned gifts (such as bequests, trust or charitable gift annuities) to benefit A&M.
“When the Texas A&M Foundation representatives sat down with me on my back deck, and we got down to the business of structuring this gift, I was easily convinced that my money is in good hands at the Texas A&M Foundation. I’ve worked in higher education for more than 40 years, so I know that charitable gifts are often misspent. I have no doubt that Texas A&M will do it the right way,” he said.
The Texas A&M Foundation is a private nonprofit organization that solicits and manages investments in Texas A&M academics and student leadership programs. For more information about after-lifetime gifts, contact Glenn Pittsford ’72 at the Texas A&M Foundation at (800) 392-3310, (979) 845-8161.
Media contact: Sondra White, Marketing Communications Manager, Texas A&M Foundation, (giving.tamu.edu) or (800) 392-3310, Ext. 191