Alice and Erle Nye commit $1 million to Texas A&M Engineering

Photo of Alice A. and Erle A. NyeOne of Texas A&M University’s favorite sons has committed a $1 million gift to the school’s engineering program. Alice A. and Erle A. Nye, chairman emeritus of TXU and twice a regent of The Texas A&M University System, have established a legacy gift to support faculty and students through professorships, fellowships and scholarships at the discretion of the dean.

“Few Aggies have demonstrated the level of continuous support for Texas A&M University as have Erle and Alice Nye,” said Dr. G. Kemble Bennett, who stepped down as vice chancellor and dean of engineering Aug. 31. “From sharing a significant amount of time and wisdom in many advisory capacities, to donating the resources needed to achieve academic excellence, our appreciation to the Nye family cannot be overstated. Their generosity is helping us to educate bright young minds, create new knowledge, discover new technologies and prepare the next generation of Aggie engineers.”

The Alice and Erle Nye ’59 Excellence in Engineering Fund was established with a life insurance policy naming the Texas A&M Foundation as owner and beneficiary. The Dallas couple’s previous gifts to the Dwight Look College of Engineering include the Erle Nye ’59 Chair for Engineering Excellence, at $2 million one of the largest such endowments in the college, and a perpetual scholarship in the Engineering Scholars Program. The Nyes’ generosity also extends across a wide cross-section of other programs and organizations at Texas A&M.

“Texas A&M has had a profoundly positive impact on my life, and my engineering education has been a key part of my development. I am extremely grateful, and want to help others access the great engineering programs at A&M,” Nye said.

Nye graduated from Texas A&M in 1959 as a Distinguished Military Graduate with a B.S. degree in electrical engineering. He holds the J.D. from Southern Methodist University and an honorary Ph.D. from the Baylor College of Dentistry.

He began his career with Texas Utilities Co. in 1960 as a junior engineer. His business acumen and interpersonal skills propelled him through the company ranks to the executive suite. Nye was elected president of the company in 1987, president and CEO in 1995, and became chairman of the board as well in 1997. Upon retirement in 2005, he was designated chairman emeritus.

Sometimes called the “father of deregulation legislation in Texas,” Nye is highly regarded for his ability to lead the resolution of difficult business and civic issues. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors related to his efforts in industry, professional, civic and charitable organizations.

Nye currently serves on the board of Brinker International Inc., S&C Electric Co. and The Green Exchange. He is a former chairman of the National Infrastructure Advisory Council, Edison Electric Institute, Electric Power Research Institute, North American Electric Reliability Council, Nuclear Energy Institute, Baylor College of Dentistry and University of Texas Investment Management Co.

At Texas A&M Nye is a charter member and former chairman of the Engineering Advisory Council, as well as a member of the Chancellor’s Century, Corps of Cadets Development and 12th Man Foundation Champions councils. He served as chair of the One Spirit One Vision Executive Committee for a campaign that raised more than $1 billion for the university’s benefit. During Nye’s two consecutive terms from 1997-2009 as a regent of the Texas A&M System, he was chairman from 2001-2003 and vice chairman from 2003-2005.

A Distinguished Alumnus of Texas A&M, he has been recognized with the Outstanding Alumni Award from the Dwight Look College of Engineering, membership in the Corps of Cadets Hall of Honor and the C.W. Conn Distinguished New Venture Leader Award from the Mays Business School.

Alice Nye received a degree in elementary education from the University of North Texas, graduating in three years, and chose to teach in one of Fort Worth’s most economically deprived areas. She preferred first grade because “that’s where you can make the most impact and best influence a child’s future success.”

After marriage and the move to a different community, she taught in private and parochial schools until the couple’s five children began to arrive. Later she was a substitute teacher as family responsibilities permitted. She has been active in her church, serving on committees as well as in the classroom. Friends describe her as the “ultimate grandmother” to the Nyes’ 10 grandchildren.

The Texas A&M Foundation is a nonprofit organization that raises major gifts and manages endowments for the sole benefit of Texas A&M University.