Texas A&M Foundation honors first recipient of Partner in Philanthropy Faculty Award

DSC 0677 1 SmallThe Texas A&M Foundation recognized Dr. John Junkins, distinguished professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University, as the inaugural Partner in Philanthropy Faculty Award recipient for his outstanding commitment to enhancing the efforts of fundraising. Junkins received the award at a reception on Tuesday (Feb. 23).

The award was established to celebrate an individual faculty member who has provided dedicated and lasting participation, commitment and creative leadership to philanthropy at Texas A&M. This accolade acknowledges an individual faculty member’s effort to build long-term productive relationships between the university, former students and other private partners in philanthropy.

The Partner in Philanthropy Faculty Award will honor a different faculty member each year. To be selected, faculty must be nominated by a member of the Texas A&M Foundation development staff. Recipients will be chosen based on their lasting participation and commitment to creative leadership and philanthropy.

"John was the obvious choice as the inaugural recipient of this award,” said George Hickox, chairman of the Texas A&M Foundation Board of Trustees and a 1980 graduate of the university. “The Texas A&M Foundation trustees selected him because he embodies the philanthropic spirit and demonstrates an unwavering desire to extend Texas A&M’s ability to solve great global challenges.”

A distinguished professor of aerospace engineering and a Regents Professor, Junkins serves as the founding director of the Texas A&M Institute for Advanced Study (TIAS), a program that recruits eminent scholars to collaborate with Texas A&M faculty and students. By identifying and attracting national academy and Nobel-caliber academic talent, TIAS aims to make Texas A&M a distinctive university measured by world standards for academic excellence.

Junkins has worked steadfastly to support a culture of philanthropy at the university through ongoing efforts to develop philanthropic partnerships in support of TIAS, Hickox added. During his time at the helm of TIAS, Junkins has developed relationships with potential donors and demonstrated a deep understanding of the value of private support.

DSC 0667 1 SmallIn addition, Junkins has made gifts to support the university from his personal estate. In 2012, he and his wife gave $2 million to establish the John and Elouise Junkins Chair in Aerospace Engineering.

As he watched TIAS enrich the academic environment at Texas A&M, Junkins was inspired to create his own gift to support that initiative as well. He committed $1 million for the John and Elouise Junkins Director’s Chair to benefit TIAS.

“By promoting TIAS to potential fellows and donors, and by supporting it through our endowment, I am doing all that I can to ensure that the institute doesn’t end as just a wonderful experiment that ran out of money,” said Junkins.

As holder of the Royce E. Wisenbaker Chair, Junkins has a first-hand understanding of the power of an endowed gift and its impact on his career. His gifts are the result of his effort to pay it forward, and he hopes others will do the same.

“My career and indeed the quality of my family’s life has been greatly enhanced by the Wisenbaker’s generosity and other endowments,” said Junkins. “Elouise and I reflected on this truth and we feel it is only fitting that we invest our estate to enhance the future of our academic home.

“I also believe faculty involvement in philanthropy will strike a powerful chord and help motivate other donors to give. They will see that we faculty truly believe in what we are doing and have personally bought into moving the university to the next level.”

The Foundation hopes the Partner in Philanthropy award will encourage other faculty members to embody this spirit of service and philanthropy so evident in Junkins.

“It is imperative that faculty not only understand the role of philanthropy in their academic pursuits but that they actively participate in the philanthropic process,” said former Texas A&M Foundation president Ed Davis, who worked alongside Junkins to seek private support for TIAS. “In this way, John is the exemplar. His dedication to seeking support for TIAS demonstrates his deeply held faith in the academic value of endowments for TIAS and for broadly advancing Texas A&M’s quality and stature.”

About the Texas A&M Foundation:The Texas A&M Foundation is a nonprofit organization that solicits and manages investments in academics and leadership programs to enhance Texas A&M’s capability to be among the best universities. 

For additional information, please contact Monika Blackwell at mblackwell@txamfoundation.com or (979) 845-7468.