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Faculty Chairs

Faculty Chairs

Investing in faculty has a profound effect on any institution. Employing top-notch faculty members attracts not only excellent professors, but also excellent students. State funding only covers so much of the cost to bring in the best, making private support more important than ever.

Endowed chairs help attract and retain top talent, covering a professor’s income, research, travel costs and salaries of his or her graduate assistants.

Marilyn Kent Byrne Chair for Student Success

Dr. Marilyn Kent Byrne is an educator whose career in the classroom, as a school principal and later the dean of graduate studies in educational leadership at Doane College in Nebraska, was sustained by a commitment to students, teaching and effective practices. Marilyn’s career accomplishments include leading the improvement of a low-performing middle school in Oregon. She and the staff increased student achievement and parent/community support by implementing innovative programs and working collaboratively. At Doane College, Marilyn initiated, planned, developed and delivered a highly effective graduate program to prepare future school administrators. The center and chair, named in Marilyn’s honor, was funded by Dorothy and Artie McFerrin ’65.

Claude H. Everett, Jr. ’47 Chair

Claude H. Everett, Jr. was a second-generation Aggie and a life-long resident of Harris County, Texas. The retired owner of a construction management business, Claude’s legacy was building things that made an impact. With steel and concrete, he constructed everything from maritime docks to petrochemical plants, but through his generosity, he created a permanent endowment for education. “When I went to A&M, I got a good technical education, but I didn’t get enough in the way of general education,” he once said. “I want to give today’s students a greater opportunity to broaden their education beyond engineering and the sciences.” Claude’s commitment to education and his philosophy to expand students’ educational experiences live on through this endowed chair, which was funded through a bequest.

Ruth Harrington Chair in Educational Leadership

Established through a gift from the Ed Rachal Foundation, this endowed chair was named in honor of the wife of a longtime Texas A&M educator and former chancellor, the late Dr. M.T. “Tom” Harrington. This endowment supports the scholarship, teaching and service of the chair holder. By supporting the long-term efforts of a scholar in educational leadership, the Ed Rachal Foundation is making a significant contribution to enhancing education in our state and nation.

Houston Endowment Inc. Chair in Urban Education

Established in 1937 by Jesse H. Jones and Mary Gibbs Jones, The Houston Endowment, Inc. supports programs that benefit the greater Houston area and the State of Texas. The Houston Endowment, Inc. funded two chairs to address the unique challenges and opportunities of urban education, including attracting, retaining and developing exceptional teachers in inner-city schools.

Sydney and J.L. Huffines ’44 Chair

J.L. and Sydney Huffines established this chair with a matching gift from the H.R. “Bum” Bright Matching Funds Program. As the second-generation owner of an auto dealership in the Dallas area, J.L. and his wife, Sydney, have generously given to education. This chair supports the teaching, research, service and professional development activities of the chair holder.

Douglas J. Palmer Chair in Educational Psychology

Dr. Doug Palmer was the fifth dean of the School of Education and Human Development. The chair was established through gifts from the Ed Rachal Foundation and several of Dr. Palmer’s friends and colleagues. This chair supports a faculty member who is working with students who are preparing to become special education or bilingual education teachers, or those preparing for careers in psychology. Dr. Victor Willson was the inaugural chair holder.

Leonard D. Ponder Chair in Health and Kinesiology

Established by Joan Read, this chair was named in honor of Dr. Leonard D. Ponder, professor emeritus of Health and Kinesiology. Dr. Ponder retired after 36 years of service to Texas A&M University. Funds from endowed chairs support the teaching, research and service activities of the chair holder and their graduate students.

Thomas A. and Joan Read Chair for Disadvantaged Youth

Joan and Tom Read established this chair to strengthen ties between Read Youth Charities and Texas A&M University. In 1980, Tom Read approached Dr. Leonard Ponder, who was the head of the Department of Health and Kinesiology, to ask for help in running the Read Youth Charities’ newly established camp for disadvantaged boys. Dr. Ponder said, “As we walked through the grounds and viewed the buildings, it was obvious that our involvement would be a great thing for the entire university and especially for the students in our department.” Dr. Ponder recruited a staff and director, and the camp opened in the summer of 1981. The camp, formerly called the Fred A. Lennon Camp, was renamed the Deerfoot Youth Camp and operates for the benefit of disadvantaged children.

Curtis D. Robert Chair in Math Education

Established through a gift from the Ed Rachal Foundation, this chair was named in honor of Curtis D. Robert ’49, the Foundation’s long-time president. In recognition of Curtis’ dedication and many years of service to the foundation, and his admiration for Texas A&M University, the primary emphasis of this chair is to improve the visibility, stature and impact of the mathematics education program.

Omar Smith Chair in Health and Physical Education

Omar Smith attended Texas A&M University, where as a freshman, he was awarded a letter in football and won the intramural boxing championship. He also was a member of the tennis team and graduated in 1936. Omar loyally served as a faculty member in the Department of Health and Physical Education, teaching physical education to students. As Texas A&M’s tennis coach from 1960 through 1974, he compiled an impressive winning record. Among his accomplishments were 13 winning seasons, two Southwest Conference doubles titles and an undefeated home record against the University of Texas. It was Omar’s dedication to the education of young people and Texas A&M that led him to endow this chair through his estate.

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