Gifts to campaign provide opportunities for students MSU Texas Marketing & Public Information

Story Julie Gaynor
7 min read

When Midwestern State University launched its ambitious MSU Texas: Boundless Opportunities campaign in 2017, the goal was to raise $50 million in the years leading up the centennial celebration in 2022. The centerpiece of the campaign was simple: students. From that focus, three pillars emerged to support the campaign: enriching lives, enhancing teaching and learning, and investing in the campus and community.

Enthusiasm for the campaign is evident in the numbers alone. The goal was met just 29 months into the campaign, and in 2017-18, the university broke the record for total gifts and pledges in a single year with $32.8 million. Today, the campaign has already secured more than $67 million. And the work won’t stop there, as the University evaluates a new campaign goal.

While those numbers are impressive, it’s the power of engagement and the stories of personal connection that are most evident in many of the gifts received to date. Here is a snapshot of how gifts to the campaign are influencing MSU Texas students.

Enriching Lives

Leading off the campaign in summer 2017 was the announcement of The Priddy Scholars Program, a transformational opportunity for students who aspire to be the first in their families to complete a college education. Through a generous grant from The Priddy Foundation, middle-income families across the region have benefited from the freedom from the cost of higher education given to our students.

Students in the program do not have to divide their time and attention between the workplace and the classroom, instead single-mindedly pursuing studies, participating in campus events, preparing for leadership and service roles in the community, engaging in international study, and selecting a career. Priddy Scholars stay enrolled at MSU Texas, with 90% completing their degrees without interruption.

“What we are learning from this program is helping us to design programming to help all students be successful and keep all MSU Texas degrees affordable,” said MSU Texas President Suzanne Shipley.

Enhancing Teaching and Learning

Given the rich history and economic impact of farming and ranching in the area, the addition of an agribusiness concentration in the Dillard College of Business Administration for economic majors was a natural fit. Through a cornerstone gift from Carol Dillard, a lifelong Wichitan and area rancher, the concentration is designed to teach students to apply business and economic principles to the production and marketing of food and other agricultural products and to the management of natural resources. The gift provides start-up funds by underwriting the first five years with the hire of a faculty member in the first year and an additional faculty member in three years.

Now its fifth full semester, the concentration has attracted 20 junior and senior students. Tony Dunkerley, instructor, is optimistic about the future of the program as he has seen enthusiastic support from ag teachers and county agents across the region.

Students and faculty in the Dillard College of Business Administration now have immediate access to computers and business software through a combination classroom-computer lab in what senior economics major Luka Gebel says, “exemplifies the new forefront of student learning.” The Warren Ayres Family Computer Lab is configured in such a way that students will still have the needed collaboration space of a classroom in addition to the 50 Dell computers. Warren and Pam Ayres are both graduates of and longtime donors to Midwestern State University. Additionally, Mr. Ayers has served the MSU community with leadership roles with the MSU Foundation and most recently as a member of the MSU Board of Regents.

Dr. Martin Camacho, Dean of the Lamar D. Fain College of Fine Arts, considers pianos the cornerstone instrument of any music program. He says they touch every student – from the piano students who need instruments to practice and perform, to the vocal and instrumental students who need accompaniment, to the choir and orchestra that need pianos for rehearsals and performances.

In Spring 2018, the Department of Music began the process of replacing most of the University’s aging piano inventory and the department’s electronic piano lab through the support of the Perkins-Prothro Foundation and the Dale and Joe Prothro, longtime donors to the fine arts program. The Prothros established the Music Series at Akin in 2011, the premiere chamber music concert series for the city and region. “It is difficult to imagine the landscape of the music in our community without the support of Dale and Joe Prothro,” said Camacho.

A leadership gift to the fine arts program established a permanent endowment, positioning the University to attract and retain top faculty talent to the University’s college bearing the family name. The Fain Professorship of Fine Arts recognizes individuals who articulate and execute an artistic and educational project of significant stature and reach. “The significance of this professorship will continue to grow as the scholars who hold the chair inspire our students and make their own mark within their discipline,” said President Shipley.

The Jane Spears Carnes Faculty Fellowship in Creative Endeavors is a support grant to reward and refresh faculty in creative fields so they might take a semester off from teaching to enhance their research, artistic endeavors, and teaching. It supports faculty activities and their replacement in the classroom for one semester. “We strive to provide MSU students with an education and preparation from successful experts in their field. The Carnes Fellowship allows us to continue that promise,” Camacho said. A longtime supporter of all the arts in Wichita Falls, Carnes has served on boards for the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra and the Wichita Falls Museum of Art at MSU Texas. She also served on the MSU Texas Board of Regents from 2008-2014.

Students in the Robert L. Bolin Graduate School of Petroleum Geology have access to state-of-the-art software to prepare for jobs in the oil and gas industry through software license renewals from IHS Markit and Schlumberger. Beyond the classroom instruction, students are utilizing the software in their undergraduate and graduate research projects. “The donation of industry standard software enables students to learn and use the geoscience workflows and interpretation tools that are used throughout the oil and gas industry, which is incredibly important to their transition to the workforce,” said Dr. Scott Meddaugh, the Bolin Distinguished Professor in Petroleum Geology.

Investing in the Campus and Community

Today, more than 25 percent of MSU Texas students live on campus. As the University’s residential population continues to grow, the need for expanded student services has increased. Over the past three years, administrators have created, as part of the University’s campus master plan, projects to address the physical space required for its growing residential population. Both the J.S. Bridwell Foundation and Bryant Edwards Foundation stepped forward to underwrite portions of construction that will pave the way for the development of the new Bridwell Activities Center.

The first phase of renovation began this fall on the Cannedy Greek Commons, an initiative to provide space for the University’s growing Greek Life population.

“Mac and Connie Cannedy have long been supporters of the MSU Greek system, with Connie providing vision and guidance to Sigma Kappa and others for many years. We are thrilled the Greek Commons will carry their name,” said Keith Lamb, Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management.

Upon completion of the first phase of renovations, the University plans to add offices for the student government association and student affairs departments, as well as meeting rooms, a dining auxiliary, and a 150-seat theater to complete the activities center.

On the horizon is the much-anticipated remodel and expansion project of Bolin Science Hall. Through the generosity of a multi-year pledge from the James N. McCoy Foundation, the first phase of that project is taking shape. The overall project consists of a student computing lab, an entry lobby with a student gathering space, an administrative and student services suite, an office suite for geosciences, and additional exterior and interior renovations and expansion priorities.

“Jim and Vicki McCoy’s vision has helped the university shape an impressive educational foundation for our students in engineering, mathematics and science. They have empowered us to equip spaces, recruit gifted faculty, and provide support for deserving students," said President Shipley.

With such strong support, the opportunities for MSU Texas are boundless as the University enters its second century of academic excellence.

Learn more about the Comprehensive Campaign for MSU Texas at