By Chip Chandler

West Texas A&M University’s One West campaign has raised a record-breaking $108 million just six months since its public launch, WT officials announced today.

The current total—specifically, $107,755,000, as of March 22—surpasses WT leaders’ expectations and more than doubles the amount raised by the University’s last fundraising campaign, officials said.

“The One West campaign has raised all of our expectations of what is possible for this great University,” said Dyke Rogers, One West campaign co-chair. “I, along with many of you who graduated from WT, and many of you who, like my wife Terry and me, have lived and served in this region have witnessed the exciting growth and transformation of WT. I am astounded and so pleased by what this University has become and what it aspires to become.”

And the campaign has only just begun, WT President Walter V. Wendler reiterated.

“We will build on this early momentum to quickly reach our $125 million goal—and surpass it,” Wendler said.

The $125 million comprehensive campaign is the largest and most ambitious fundraising effort across the Texas Panhandle.

“We are building on the success of our landmark 2012 fundraising campaign, which raised $53 million, 76 percent more than its announced goal of $30 million,” said Dr. Todd Rasberry, vice president for philanthropy and external relations.

Thus far, 5,532 donors have given 42,984 gifts as part of the One West campaign.

Approximately $17 million is needed to reach the five-year goal of $125 million, which was announced when the One West campaign went public Sept. 23 in a massive event held on the floor of the newly renamed Bain-Schaeffer Buffalo Stadium.

That stadium naming, which was announced Feb. 28, is the result of one of the more public gifts made thus far to the One West campaign—a $5 million gift from the families of Barbara and the late Ray Bain and Stanley and the late Geneva Schaeffer. Other recent major gifts include a $5 million gift, announced March 9, by Dyke Rogers for the naming of the Terry B. Rogers College of Education and Social Sciences; and a $2.5 million gift, announced Feb. 21, by Stanley Schaeffer and family for the naming of the Geneva Schaeffer Education Building.

Other gifts received thus far in the One West campaign are planned gifts—legacy gifts that will benefit the University as part of the estates of the donors. One such gift was from Bob and Lanna Hatton, announced Dec. 1, 2020, to start the Hatton Education Endowment Fund.

“The Hattons’ generous gift is just one example of a legacy gift that will continue to impact our students beyond the donors’ lifetime,” said Lesly Bosch Annen, assistant vice president for leadership gifts and development. “We know there are many other donors who have set aside gifts for WT in their estate plans. Planned gifts represent an important part of the current campaign to ensure that people, programs and places are supported well into the future. We want to know if someone has left the University in their estate plans so we can count their gift in the campaign and steward them as donors to the University.”

Every gift is important in the campaign, not just major gifts of $25,000 or more, Rasberry said.

I Am WT, the University’s annual fund campaign for faculty, staff and retirees, saw an 86 percent increase in donations from 2020 to 2021.

“Gifts to the I Am WT campaign are important because it shows how invested the WT family is in the future of the University,” said Haley Bell, senior director for annual giving.

Additionally, WT saw a 68 percent increase in donors in the 2021 The Panhandle Gives campaign in November.

The campaign has motivated first-time givers of every level, including Lauren Kuehler, a senior biology/biochemistry major from Groom, who was motivated by the campaign to donate $20 and join the WT Alumni Association’s new student alumni network.

“Though I’m still a student, I can see how important the One West campaign is to the future of our campus,” Kuehler said. “It’s cool to be able to give back as a student, even in such a small way.”

The One West Campaign represents the largest and most ambitious fundraising effort ever undertaken across the Texas Panhandle region, and it should be a large and ambitious campaign, because WT plays an important and vital role to students, families and communities in the Panhandle, across the region, the state, the nation and around the globe,” said Terry Rogers, campaign leadership co-chair. “While today’s announcement is a significant milestone for WT and in the One West campaign, it is not a place to rest.”

The campaign fuels the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World. Its three priorities: people, through scholarships and professorships; programs, enhancing academic offerings and research; and places, improving existing buildings and constructing new spaces.

Among the giving opportunities: Endowed scholarships for students; named professorships and chairs for faculty members; endowed programs and research funds; and naming rights for two of the University’s Colleges and its Graduate School, as well as various campus buildings, classrooms and other spaces.

The WTAMU Foundation will work with donors to set up multi-year commitments, gifts from donor-advised funds or appreciated assets, gifts of property, or estate bequests through wills or living trusts, among other options.

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