Jim Swaim has always had a deep appreciation for excellence and his university. From his days as an accounting major at Texas A&M through his successful career as a business and financial executive, Swaim has been team oriented and committed to the highest of standards. So, it should come as no surprise that when Jim and his wife, Debra Parchman-Swaim, decided to invest in Texas A&M athletics, their focus quickly centered on track and field.
After all, Pat Henry's program is the gold standard in the sport. The 36-time national champion coach has transformed A&M's team since he arrived in 2005. The Aggies have won nine national championships since then, including their first indoor title earlier this year.
The Fort Worth-based couple recently committed a major gift to A&M's new track and field stadium project.
"If you look at the excellence and consistency Coach Henry has generated, you can't help but want to get behind them," said Swaim, who graduated from A&M in 1974. "We have had other successful programs, but none have had more consistency. What better way is there to support your university and excellence than by supporting this team and this program?"
The family's commitment to the stadium project came at a crucial time, as fundraising for the project is nearing its conclusion.
Jim and Debra were already generous donors to the 12th Man Foundation's 1922 Fund scholarship program. In 2013, they endowed a scholarship that benefits track and field. In March, the couple attended a 1922 Fund luncheon that paired donors with the student-athlete receiving their scholarship. One of the athletes seated near Jim and Debra was junior sprinter Mylik Kerley.
One week later, the couple was in the stands at the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium when Kerley's heroic final leg of the 4x400 relay helped capture A&M's thrilling national title.
"I've had almost 50 years of sports experience with A&M, and that moment was easily in my top five," recalled Jim. "It was amazing, from the crowd and the celebration afterward to the people around us. Even guests and parents from other schools were excited and talking about how impressed they were with A&M."
The couple has supported other areas of the university as well, including the Stevenson Companion Animal Life-Care Center and the Texas A&M University Press. Earlier this month, Jim was installed as chairman of the Press Advancement Board, and the couple has been involved in launching the Swaim-Paup-Foran Spirit of Sports Series of books. The series focuses on intercollegiate athletics, with a preference for A&M-related stories.
Meanwhile, the generosity of Jim and Debra has provided a unique blend of academic and facility support that propels A&M athletics forward on many fronts.
"We believe that for many people who don't know about A&M's academics, athletics are the window to the university," Jim said. "More than anything, we try to support academics with athletics, and not vice versa. Bricks and mortar are temporary, but the academic side is forever."
Their support has certainly made a difference.
"Jim and Debra are an awesome example of Aggies willing to step up," said 12th Man Foundation Vice President of Major Gifts Brady Bullard. "We had a Champions Council reception in Fort Worth recently where we asked for help with the new outdoor track and field project. They caught me afterwards and asked what they could do, and that led to their most recent commitment. Additionally, their 1922 Fund endowed student-athlete scholarship continues to grow through additional gifts. Jim and Debra are good friends of the 12th Man Foundation and Aggie Athletics. In addition to giving, they support our teams at a high level, and you can almost always find them in College Station cheering for the Aggies." a
To learn how you can help support Texas A&M athletics, please contact the 12th Man Foundation's Major Gifts office at 979.260.2398.
When it comes down to it, education is the most important thing someone can have, and student-athletes give so much of their time and talents to our school. If we can help support them to earn that diploma and Aggie ring, then that is what we want to do."