Officials at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas, announced Nov. 17 the largest gift in the university’s 107-year history.
Paul Engler and the Paul F. & Virginia J. Engler Foundation have agreed to donate at least $1 million a year to the institution for a period of no fewer than 80 years. In response, The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents has granted naming rights to the Paul Engler College of Agriculture & Natural Sciences and the Paul & Virginia Engler College of Business.
“West Texas A&M University is the lifeblood of the Texas Panhandle,” John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System, said. “An investment in this institution is an investment in the future of the region. What an honor it is to become part of the legacy of Paul Engler, a man whose true grit and entrepreneurial spirit has transformed an entire industry.”
Engler, on behalf of the foundation, said he appreciates the university for its acceptance of the gift and its offer to name the respective colleges honoring his name.
The gift represents at least $500,000 per year into the foreseeable future for both the Paul Engler College of Agriculture & Natural Sciences and the Paul & Virginia Engler College of Business. In addition, the college deans will work with the Engler Foundation to distribute contributions for endowments to benefit five different areas: scholarships, professorships, named spaces, community outreach and strategic planning/improvement.
The implicit impact of the gift is further enhanced by the Engler Foundation’s willingness to encourage others to invest in the respective colleges via a strategy of offering matching funds to donors establishing new scholarship, professorship and program innovation endowments.
A Nebraska native, Paul Engler’s business skills started early when he purchased his first herd of cattle at the age of 12. He used the proceeds from cattle sales to fund his college education, and he graduated with a degree in agriculture in 1948 from the University of Nebraska. By 1960, he was the founder/owner/operator of the Hereford Feedyard, establishing the Texas Panhandle as a force in the cattle industry. Under his leadership, Cactus Feeders became the largest cattle feeding company in the world. A pioneer of the Texas cattle feeding industry, Engler has received numerous honors and recognition throughout his career, including induction into the Meat Industry Hall of Fame and the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame.
The Paul F. & Virginia J. Engler Foundation is a family endeavor and reflects the love of family and the communities Paul and Virginia serve, including the Texas Panhandle. The late Virginia "Jinx" Joan Kreycik Engler was a dedicated philanthropist throughout her life. Commitment to higher education in the region is not new for the Engler Foundation, as generations of emerging business leaders at West Texas A&M have benefited from the long-established Virginia Engler Scholarship.
“This is an exciting time for our college and our students,” Dr. Dean Hawkins, dean of the Paul Engler College of Agriculture & Natural Sciences, said. “With the construction of our new ag complex and the gift from Paul, the college is in a position to provide the best in educational opportunities as well as financial support to our students than ever before. We are very grateful for Paul’s generosity and excited about the future of agriculture" at West Texas A&M.
The naming of the two colleges goes into effect immediately.