Unmatched generosity of Aggies leads to successful completion of ambitious campaign
By Adam Quisenberry
An annual pilgrimage back to Aggieland highlights the calendars of many former students as the maroon-clad faithful descend to celebrate another season on the gridiron. This past fall, however, a different view greeted the familiar approach to Kyle Field along Wellborn Road as construction had begun south of the stadium as part of the Centennial Campaign.
The ambitious capital campaign was designed to support the athletic and academic journeys of all Texas A&M student-athletes and rejuvenate the home base of the Aggie Football program.
“When we recruit student-athletes to Texas A&M, our goal is to develop them academically, athletically and in their personal lives,” Texas A&M Director of Athletics Ross Bjork said. “We are in the most transformational time in the history of college athletics, but at Texas A&M we are always going to hold ourselves to a standard of excellence. The Centennial Campaign is a commitment to that standard and an investment in our student-athletes.”
Initial conversations regarding a significant capital campaign began in 2019 leading to an exploratory phase that solicited feedback on a wide variety of capital projects that were under consideration.
The information gathered ultimately allowed Texas A&M Athletics, along with external partners Populous and Manhattan Construction, to define the initial scope of the projects to be undertaken. This set the stage for the 12th Man Foundation to develop a fundraising plan which would come to be known as the Centennial Campaign in recognition of the 100-year anniversary of Texas A&M's iconic 12th Man tradition.
"We have unbelievable donors, many of whom have given to multiple projects throughout the years, but one of the bright spots has been how many new donors stepped forward to support the 12th Man Foundation and this campaign."
On April 25, 2022, during Champions Council Weekend in College Station, the campaign publicly launched with an ambitious $120 million goal that represented the largest philanthropic fundraising effort in the history of the 12th Man Foundation outside of the historic redevelopment of Kyle Field.
LEAD DONORS STEP FORWARD
The Centennial Campaign's launch made headlines as it once again served notice of Texas A&M's mission to provide first in class resources for Aggie student-athletes. That commitment was underscored as the 12th Man Foundation announced it had secured over $80 million of initial funding, with much of the total coming from a quartet of lead donors who championed the cause.
“The campaign wouldn't have been successful without the lead donors,” said 12th Man Foundation Senior Vice President of Major Giving Programs Brady Bullard '95. “When you look at the campaign goal of $120 million, they account for over half of it.”
April & Jay Graham '92 paved the way by making a historic $25 million lead gift, the single largest capital commitment ever made in support of Texas A&M Athletics. The Graham Athletic Complex will encompass the athletics spaces just south of Kyle Field, including three cornerstone facilities featured in the campaign.
“We started having real conversations with Jay and April in the summer of 2021,” Bullard added. “They stepped up in a huge way to get this campaign off the ground. Their gift is a game-changer for Texas A&M Athletics.”
The Graham Athletic Complex will include the Adam C. Sinn '00 Academic & Wellness Center, a dedicated facility supporting the education and well-being for over 600 student-athletes, following Sinn's generous donation of $15 million toward the project.
Former 12th Man Kickoff Team member David Coolidge '87 continued his longstanding support of the Aggie Football program by committing a $15 million pledge. His gift will make possible the construction of the new Coolidge Football Performance Center — the first of the new facilities to enter use in the fall of 2023.
Wayne Roberts '85 committed a lead gift, which was earmarked for the renovation of the Bright Football Complex. Roberts honored others by asking for the home of Aggie Football to be renamed the Bright-Slocum Center for Texas A&M Football, adding recognition for legendary football coach R.C. Slocum along with his close friend and the facility's original namesake, Harvey R. “Bum” Bright '43.
Construction crews are making steady progress, most evident on the west side of the train tracks where the new R.A. “Murray” Fasken '38 Indoor Track stadium is taking shape adjacent to E.B. Cushing Stadium.
Construction is slated to be completed in the fall of 2023 with Aggie Track & Field prepared to host indoor competition in the facility next season.
To the south of Kyle Field, the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium and neighboring indoor football practice facility no longer loom over Wellborn Road. In their place, the new Coolidge Football Performance Center is installing steel support structures and is slated to be ready for use prior to the 2023 football season.
Renovations on the Bright-Slocum Center for Texas A&M Football have begun with work on the building's second floor. Later aspects of the renovation will take place in the future with a goal of being complete prior to the 2024 season.
The Adam C. Sinn '00 Academic & Wellness Center is currently installing underground utility pipelines and is projected to start construction above ground later this summer.
A RESOUNDING SUCCESS
The extraordinary support from the lead donors provided a pathway for the Centennial Campaign's successful launch, but Bullard notes that support came from a great variety of people and at many different levels.
“We have unbelievable donors, many of whom have given to multiple projects throughout the years, but one of the bright spots has been how many new donors stepped forward to support the 12th Man Foundation and this campaign,” Bullard said.
In total, more than 350 supporters joined the lead gift donors to help reach the $120 million Centennial Campaign goal in just under one year from its public launch.
“The success of the Centennial Campaign is a testament to the unrivaled commitment of the Aggies who, in the spirit of E. King Gill, continue to step up when called upon to support Texas A&M Athletics,” 12th Man Foundation President Travis Dabney '96 said. “They are leaving their own legacy with their generous investment in this campaign.”