Since 1998, the Texas A&M Foundation’s Board of Trustees has awarded the Sterling C. Evans Medal to outstanding philanthropists for their unique contributions to Texas A&M University and the Aggie community. In this column, I would like to honor and briefly share the stories of this year’s recipients.
Craig Brown ’75 and Sue Harris Smith have played an instrumental role in attracting some of the nation’s top students to Texas A&M. Today, the couple’s flagship program is the Craig and Galen Brown Foundation, which awards competitive scholarships to well-rounded students recognized as National Merit Finalists and Semifinalists. During the past 28 years, they have supported approximately 400 Aggies through this program. Brown Scholarships supplement any other academic awards students receive to provide fully-funded tuition. In large part due to the Brown Scholarships, Texas A&M now ranks No. 1 in Texas for National Merit Scholar enrollment, No. 3 among public U.S. universities and No. 7 nationally. Additionally, its engineering program is second only to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the number of National Merit Semifinalists and National Merit Scholars enrolled. Undeniably, the Brown Scholars program is one of the most inspiring personal commitments to higher education in the United States today.
Judy Ley Allen and her late husband Robert “Bob” Allen ’50 have provided extraordinary leadership and service to Texas A&M for more than 40 years. Bob even served the university in its highest capacity as a Regent. They have supported Mays Business School in many ways, but they were also instrumental in helping complete the campus of the Bush School of Government and Public Service; in recognition, the campus’ main building bears their name. The couple has always admired Texas A&M’s sense of camaraderie, and their interest in supporting the Bush School stemmed from their confidence in its ability to produce ethical leaders dedicated to public service. Today, their gifts have helped the school become a leading public and international affairs graduate institution.
Donna Walker and her late husband J. Mike Walker ’66 are longtime supporters of Texas A&M, but it was their $40 million gift in 2018 to name the departments of mechanical engineering at both Texas A&M and The University of Texas at Austin that will have the greatest impact. Their gift will help researchers at both institutions develop new technologies as well as offer additional learning and leadership opportunities for students. In recognition, both universities have renamed their departments of mechanical engineering to honor Mike and his successful career in the industry. This gift says a tremendous amount about leadership and unity and will have a transformative impact on engineering education and research in the Lone Star State.
We honor these distinguished givers not just for the difference they have made in countless lives at Texas A&M already, but also for the standard they have set for the future. No single award can fully account for the kind of leadership these couples have exhibited, but we at the Foundation are proud to present each of them with the Evans Medal as a symbol of our everlasting gratitude.
Thanks and Gig ’em,
Tyson Voelkel ’96 President, Texas A&M Foundation