McFerrins commit $3 million to Dwight Look College of Engineering

Mc Ferrin2Longtime supporters of Texas A&M University Artie and Dorothy McFerrin will further contribute to their legacy at Texas A&M with a $3 million gift to the Dwight Look College of Engineering to endow a new Professor of Practice in Entrepreneurship and to support construction of the new Engineering Education Complex.

“We are so grateful for Artie and Dorothy’s unparalleled and continued support of the engineering program,” said Dr. M. Katherine Banks, vice chancellor and dean of engineering. “The McFerrins understand the value of investing in our students and their generosity and commitment to educational excellence will benefit many for years to come.”

Two million dollars from the McFerrins’ gift will be used to establish an endowment for a professor of practice for entrepreneurship within the Look College. The endowment will fund an individual of exceptional merit who has had an illustrious career at the local, state, national or international level.

“I became an entrepreneur before I realized I was one,” said Artie McFerrin. “My hope with this gift is to teach our engineering students how to think like an entrepreneur — an opportunity to be exposed to the non-linear, opportunistic side of engineering.”

Artie’s passion for sharing what he has learned regarding entrepreneurship is also seen in his soon-to-be published book, “Only Sweat the Big Stuff.” He believes others can be taught how to be entrepreneurial minded and has assembled tips on the subject in the book.

The McFerrins’ donation also includes $1 million to be used for the construction of the Engineering Education Complex (EEC), a 600,000 square foot complex that will include the existing Zachry Engineering Center and the yet-to-be constructed Engineering Design Center.

The futuristic, technology-integrated facility will be a departure from traditional classrooms and lecture halls by focusing on student-centered design to optimize modern learning techniques and technology, and is expected to be unlike any other facility of its kind in the nation. The new facility will be specifically designed to accommodate the college’s undergraduate engineering education and is a key component in the Look College’s effort to transform engineering education through its 25 by 25 initiative.

“I like that we are doing something within the college of engineering; our engineering leadership is progressive and ready to succeed,” said Artie McFerrin. “There is something special about being an Aggie engineer and this initiative offers more people that opportunity.”

Artie earned his bachelor’s and master’s of science in chemical engineering in 1965 and 1969, respectively, and in recent years, the McFerrins have embodied the Aggie philanthropic spirit with their generous donations to support both education and athletics at Texas A&M. In 2005, they committed $10 million to establish an endowed fund in the Department of Chemical Engineering, which was later named in his honor. The McFerrins have also donated almost $43 million to the university, benefitting the Look College, the College of Education and Human Development and the athletic program.

Currently, Artie serves on the Engineering Advisory Council, Chemical Engineering Advisory Board including several years as chairman, the Corps Board of Visitors and is a member of the board of trustees for the 12th Man Foundation. Dorothy has served on and as chair of the College of Education and Human Development’s advisory board. Together, they have been repeatedly honored by various campus entities for their monetary and leadership contributions. They have two children, Jeffrey ’92 and Jennifer, a graduate of UCLA, and four grandchildren.

The Look College is a nationally ranked program with more than 13,000 students and nearly 350 tenured/tenure-track faculty. Together the EEC and 25 by 25 initiative will transform engineering education at Texas A&M and its success lies within the network of the many supporters of the engineering program.