Paul Engler presents $1 million to WT as part of largest gift in school history


By Chip Chandler 

Checks totaling $1 million were presented Nov. 6 to the West Texas A&M University Foundation by Paul Engler as part of his $80 million gift to the University, currently the largest gift in WT history.

In 2017, Engler and the Paul F. and Virginia J. Engler Foundation agreed to donate at least $1 million a year for at least 80 years to the University’s Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences and the Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business.

“The immense generosity of Paul Engler and the Engler Foundation truly is a transformative investment in the future of West Texas A&M,” said University President Dr. Walter Wendler. “And moreover, it is an investment in the future of our entire region, as outlined in our long-term plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

“Paul Engler’s true grit and entrepreneurial spirit completely reshaped the cattle industry, and his legacy will continue to mold West Texas A&M for the foreseeable future.”

Engler presented the checks — $500,000 each to the Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences and the Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business — during a COVID-conscious presentation at 10 a.m. Nov. 6 in the Stan and Gerry Sigman Grand Lobby in the Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences Complex. The event was livestreamed on WT’s homepage to keep attendance low, and face masks and social distancing were required of those present.

“Paul believes strongly in quality education as a driver for success in business and in life,” said David Terry, the new CEO of the Engler Foundation. “The most excited I see him is when he reads the notes and letters from student scholarship recipients. He enjoys seeing the impact of his gift. He worked hard to build a solid business that created wealth for so many. Now, the Foundation and his legacy of investment and giving lives on through eager students and quality faculty and staff.”

Scheduled to attend the presentation were Engler; Terry; Dr. Neil Terry, provost and executive vice president of academic affairs; Dr. Amjad Abdullat, dean of the Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business; and Dr. Kevin Pond, dean of the Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences.

The unprecedented gift benefits students and faculty through scholarships and professorships. And it sets an example to encourage others to invest in both colleges via a strategy of offering matching funds to donors establishing new scholarship, professorship and program innovation endowments, said Dr. Todd Rasberry, vice president of philanthropy and external relations and executive director of the WTAMU Foundation.

“This transformational gift allows us to change the trajectory of our college and how we can ultimately impact our students and our community,” Abdullat said. “Through this annual gift, we have strengthened our scholarship opportunities, created professorships, supported impactful initiatives and provided support for program enhancement over the last two years. In the future, we — in partnership with the United Way of Amarillo and Canyon — will be able to educate the next generation of business leaders about the value of giving and the impact it has on the community. We also will launch a new initiative to connect female students with successful female CEOs, leaders, experts and entrepreneurs so they can share their experiences with our scholars.”

Pond echoed Abdullat’s praise.

“The annual gift of $500,000 to the College allows for meeting both immediate and future needs,” Pond said. “For example, 34 students have received direct scholarships during the last two years for school and as a part of the study abroad trip to Australia. Other scholarships from matching gift have been provided to 62 additional students. Funds have been used to establish two new professorships, one in animal science and the other in agricultural education. These professorships allow us to honor, retain and attract excellent faculty.”

Paul Engler is the perfect example of a self-made man who has found success in the cattle industry. The Nebraska native’s business skill started at an early age when he purchased his first herd of cattle at the age of 12. He used the proceeds from cattle sales to fund his college education, and he graduated in 1948 from the University of Nebraska with a degree in agriculture. By 1960, he was the founder/owner/operator of the Hereford Feedyard, establishing the Texas Panhandle as a force in the cattle industry. Under his leadership, Cactus Feeders became the largest cattle-feeding company in the world. A pioneer of the Texas cattle-feeding industry, Engler has received numerous honors and recognition throughout his career, which include induction into the Meat Industry Hall of Fame and the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame.

The Paul F. And Virginia J. Engler Foundation is a family endeavor and reflects the love of family and the communities Paul and Virginia serve, including the Texas Panhandle. The late Virginia ‘Jinx’ Joan Kreycik Engler was a dedicated philanthropist throughout her life. She loved helping people and shared her kindness and generosity with everyone she met. That generosity and kindness provided the groundwork in helping the community through their foundation.  Commitment to higher education in the region is not new for the Engler Foundation, as generations of emerging business leaders at West Texas A&M University have benefitted from the long-established Virginia Engler Scholarship.

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