Southwestern Oklahoma State University (SWOSU) in Weatherford is set to receive the largest single donation in the history of the university.
Longtime SWOSU benefactors Jerry and Margaret Hodge of Amarillo have generously committed a record-breaking $5 million charitable gift.
The Hodge donation will enable SWOSU to take the next steps toward construction of a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to healthcare education and pharmacy, named in honor of the Hodges.
The gift will also establish a substantial new endowment benefitting students enrolled in the SWOSU College of Pharmacy.
Jerry Hodge, former chairman and chief executive officer of Maxor National Pharmacy Services Corporation, is a 1965 graduate of the SWOSU College of Pharmacy and a long-time supporter of the university. He was inducted into the SWOSU Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame in 1979 and was honored by the SWOSU College of Pharmacy as Outstanding Alumnus in 2008.
SWOSU President Randy Beutler said the goal of the building project is to establish SWOSU as the center for rural health education in the region. An integral part of the center will be components of the College of Pharmacy and other health-related fields at SWOSU that will further the university’s mission of enhancing outreach efforts across western Oklahoma.
“We are extremely grateful and excited about the opportunities that this provides for SWOSU,” Beutler said. “This incredibly generous gift from Jerry and Margaret Hodge and the long-term, positive benefits it will provide to our students, faculty and programs is truly a watershed moment in the 120-year history of this institution.”
“I am deeply indebted to SWOSU and the College of Pharmacy,” Hodge said. “Without my pharmacy degree, I would not have been able to purchase Maxor in 1966, and Maxor would not have been able to contract with Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore to run their out-patient pharmacies in 1991. It was at John Hopkins Hospital that I met Margaret, and we married in 1994. With her support and her medical background, Maxor began to grow nationally. So, now you understand why I feel so indebted to SWOSU and the School of Pharmacy. This gift is from the two of us.”
The Hodge donation will complement the $7 million in resources provided by the recently passed sales tax by the citizens of Weatherford with a focus on rural health sciences and education.
As SWOSU continues to expand its health sciences offerings, the Hodge donation will enable the university to proceed with planning for strategic partnerships with other higher education institutions. These partnerships could lead to SWOSU students having access to a Physician’s Assistant program and the possibility of a dual degree program through the SWOSU College of Pharmacy. This is a long-term goal and priority of SWOSU that will be powerfully and positively impacted by the Hodge gift.
The endowment component of the donation is $500,000 and the Pharmacy Foundation will honor the endowment by raising equal amounts of the matching funds. SWOSU has committed to working on matching that portion of the gift, according to Beutler. The Hodge gift and related endowments will be collaboratively stewarded by SWOSU’s long-time institutionally-related charities—the Southwestern Pharmacy Alumni Foundation, Inc., (SPAF) and the SWOSU Foundation, Inc. (SWOSUF). The two Foundations will partner in raising matching funds to help further the ability of the Hodge gift to provide financial assistance to SWOSU College of Pharmacy students.
In 2005, the Jerry and Margaret Hodge Endowed Scholarship was established at SWOSU. Since its inception, the fund has provided a total of $60,000 in scholarship awards to 52 pharmacy students.
Hodge was born in Carnegie and attended a two-room country school outside of Mountain View through the eighth grade before moving to Amarillo, where he graduated in 1960 from Tascosa High School.
Following his graduation from SWOSU, he purchased Maxor Drug Company, Inc., in Amarillo and transformed it from a small community drugstore into Maxor National Pharmacy Services Corporation, a company that at one time employed nearly 500 people in Amarillo and more than 660 people nationwide. Hodge served as Maxor’s chairman and chief executive officer until he retired in 2016.
He served on the Texas State Board of Pharmacy from 1981 to 1987, including a stint as president from 1984 to 1985. He is a past president of the Texas Panhandle Pharmaceutical Association and was a charter member of the American Society of Consulting Pharmacists.
In 1973, Hodge was first elected to the Amarillo City Commission at the age of 30. After serving two 2-year terms as City Commissioner, at the age of 34, he was elected the youngest mayor in Amarillo history, serving two terms.