Tarleton State breaks fundraising records

Tarleton Fort Worth campus courtesy photo

Tarleton State University set numerous fundraising records and generated more than $14 million in private gifts in fiscal 2021, creating scholarships and endowments to support the student experience, promote faculty excellence and increase research, the Stephenville-based university said in a news release.

Tarleton State has a campus in Fort Worth.

“We are fortunate to have the most loyal friends and family in the nation, and we are profoundly grateful for their generosity. But more impressive than the dollars is the impact,” Tarleton President James Hurley said in the news release. “Among the many benefits, our students receive crucial financial assistance, and we can enhance academic programming and discovery. Every gift matters, and every gift is appreciated.”

Fiscal 2021 donations included the most cash — $11.3 million — received in a single year, up 91 percent from the previous record of $5.9 million. The record eclipses the university’s average of $4.3 million for the previous five fiscal years. And the number of donors reached an all-time high of 2,700, compared to an average 2,101 over the past decade.

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While Tarleton receives state funding, the school relies on private support to fully develop academic and athletic programs, recruit students and faculty, provide scholarships, and construct and update campus facilities, the news release said.

Private funding comes from alumni and friends who donate directly to the school or through Tarleton State University Foundation Inc. Created almost 43 years ago, the foundation provides financial support via earnings on endowed funds, gifts and property. It acts independently of the university and The Texas A&M University System solely for the benefit of students who otherwise might not earn a degree.

Since 1979, private funding to the foundation has averaged just over $547,000 annually, with a fiscal 2020 portfolio value of $23 million. This year foundation funding increased more than $7 million for an all-time high portfolio value exceeding $30 million.

Retired Air Force Col. Charles Leigon, a Tarleton alumnus, decided years ago that he wanted his legacy to include helping nursing students with a cash gift directly to the university. That legacy became a reality in fiscal 2021, when Tarleton received $1.5 million (the third largest cash donation in university history at the time) — from his estate. This year’s gift is in addition to property donations, valued around $500,000, made in 2016.

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University benefactors Joe R. and Dr. Teresa Lozano Long donated $2 million in fiscal 2021 to the Tarleton Foundation to assist under-represented students. In addition to scholarships, the Longs’ gift supports study abroad and research. The Longs have given liberally over the years, starting with $1 million to establish an endowed scholarship for students in the College of Education, College of Liberal and Fine Arts, and College of Science and Technology.

Donors Dr. Lamar and Marilynn Johanson created the Timberlake Biological Field Station Endowment in fiscal 2021, providing student stipends as well as travel for students to present research findings at national scientific conferences. A second endowment — the Lamar and Marilynn T. Johanson Biological Sciences Scholarship Endowment — continues the couple’s broad support of academic and athletic programs, providing scholarships to biomedical science and biology majors.

Johanson retired from Tarleton in 2001 after 40 years of service, including 18 as Dean of the former College of Arts and Sciences.

Also created in fiscal 2021 were the Pam and Mark Littleton Enrichment Endowment for Mathematics Education, the Pam and Mark Littleton Volleyball Scholarship, and the Jimmy J. McCoy Physics Scholarship. The namesakes are retired Tarleton faculty.

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In addition to endowed scholarships, Tarleton relies on donations made as part of the university’s annual Giving Day. More than 740 donors, another record, gave $301,461 this year, the news release said. Since the 24-hour online fundraising challenge started four years ago, university alumni, employees and students have given more than $1.56 million to Tarleton colleges, programs, scholarships and activities.

“The more we become a first-choice destination for students in North Texas, the more critical our friends and family are to our success,” Hurley said. “This is truly a symbiotic relationship of the very best kind — and everybody gains.”

Tarleton offers degree programs for more than 14,000 students in Stephenville, Fort Worth, Waco, Midlothian, at RELLIS Academic Alliance in Bryan, and online.