Texas A&M announced the end of its record-breaking Lead by Example campaign.
The campaign, which is the most ambitious higher education campaign in Texas, concluded Dec. 31, 2020 and surpassed its initial goal of $4 billion. The campaign began in 2012 but was publicly launched in November 2015 as a joint effort between A&M and its affiliate organizations, including the Texas A&M Foundation, the Association of Former Students, the 12th Man Foundation, the George & Barbara Bush Foundation and the Texas Aggie Corps of Cadets Association, or CCA.
Raising a total of $4.25 billion, the funding will go to academic initiatives, campus improvements and athletic programs. In 2015, former President of A&M Michael K. Young announced the initiative, saying 85 percent of the donations would be used to support academic initiatives and research.
“Lead By Example is one of the boldest campaigns in all of public higher education,” Young said in a 2015 press release. “We set the bar high because our university and our people are known as leaders, and we are ready to make an even greater impact on our state, nation and world.”
The campaign received more than 903,600 donations, ranging from a few dollars to multi-millions, which were used to create 3,364 new endowments supporting scholarships, college programs, faculty chairs, professorships and more. The majority of donors specified where they wanted their donations to go, leading to 30 percent allocated to colleges, 20 percent to faculty and research, 19 percent to students, 13 percent to campus construction, 10 percent to unrestricted funds and 8 percent to athletics, according to the Division of Marketing & Communications.
Texas A&M Foundation Assistant Director of Marketing & Communications Dunae Reader, Class of 2015, said donations given to the Foundation went to new programs, such as the Hagler Institute for Advanced Study and Aggie ACHIEVE; funded many new facilities, including the Gardens on West Campus, the Music Activities Center and Zachry Engineering complex; and created new scholarship opportunities.
“It was an honor and privilege for our team members, many of whom are Aggies themselves, to help build a brighter future for this university and, in turn, its beloved community,” Reader said. “Foundation donors primarily bolstered academics, funding 4,499 new scholarships during the campaign. Of those scholarships, 2,677 were endowed, meaning that they will help Aggie students in perpetuity.”
Association of Former Students Vice President of Communications and Human Resources Kathryn Greenwade said former students contributed greatly to the campaign and ended up being the highest number of donors with over 140,000 contributors. Greenwade said donations, big or small, all made a difference, with the average dollar amount donated being only $14.
“Private gifts and gifts from alumni are becoming more and more important to higher education as the percentage of funding that comes directly from the state becomes diminished,” Greenwade said. “Those private gifts become even more important to maintain the standard of excellence that a university like Texas A&M wishes to achieve.”
Along with the general student population at A&M benefitting by the Lead by Example campaign, the CCA focused on helping the Corps of Cadets grow, receiving $13 million to provide for scholarships, renovations and Corps-specific events. Executive Director of the CCA Don Crawford, Class of 1964, said although the CCA has a small staff, they received 9,000 donations that will directly pour into keeping the long-standing tradition of the Corps strong.
“The Texas Aggie Corps of Cadets Association was honored to participate in the Lead by Example campaign, which will have huge implications on the university and especially the Corps for years to come," Crawford said. "The funding provided by our members will help to ensure that the future of the Corps of Cadets remains strong."
Greenwade said support for the campaign wasn’t only given financially, but through volunteer work. Students contributed more than 12 million volunteer hours during the duration of the campaign. President and CEO of the Foundation Tyson Voelkel, Class of 1996, said the campaign is a testament to the Aggie Spirit, above all else.
“$4 billion is an impressive number, but it is the positive human impact that speaks greater volumes,” Voelkel said. “The Lead by Example campaign shattered records because countless Aggies and friends of Texas A&M University believe in its mission. They believe in our university’s humble beginnings, our values and Texas A&M’s ability to create an exponentially brighter future for our state, nation and world. This campaign proves that the Aggie Spirit and Texas A&M’s mission to educate principled leaders of character is still alive and well.”
For more information and additional highlights from the campaign visit the Lead by Example website.