James Randel “Randy” Matson, a 1967 Texas A&M University graduate, long-time fundraiser and Olympic gold medalist, will retire from the Texas A&M Foundation as senior philanthropic officer on Friday (Jan. 5).
His efforts at the Foundation centered on major gift fundraising and helping former students and friends fulfill their charitable giving goals. In this role, he contributed to the success of One Spirit One Vision, the university’s $1 billion capital campaign. To date, the seven-year campaign has raised more than $1.4 billion.
“I consider myself blessed to have had the opportunity to attend Texas A&M University and represent this school through track and field,” Matson said. “My time with the Association of Former Students and the Texas A&M Foundation has been very rewarding—it’s the way I chose to give back to Texas A&M and I certainly will miss my work here. All of us reach a point at which we know it’s time to move on. I’d like to spend more quality time with my family—especially my grandchildren, who have been so important in my life.”
Matson redefined the sport of shot put in the 1960s and ’70s, winning numerous state, national and international competitions and honors. When he was just a freshman at Texas A&M, he took the silver medal in shot put at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Another highlight in 1965 came when he set the world record for shot put at the age of 19—70 feet, 7 ¾ inches at a meet on Kyle Field. Two years later Matson broke his own world record with a heave of 71 feet, 5 ½ inches. In 1967 Matson received the Sullivan Award—the highest award given to an amateur athlete in the United States. And in 1968 he became the Olympic gold champion shot putter in the Mexico City games.
He began his Texas A&M fundraising career in 1972 as director of the annual fund for The Association of Former Students and served as the association’s executive director for 20 years. During his tenure, the annual fund grew from $1.75 million to $5.5 million. He oversaw construction of the Clayton W. Williams Jr. Alumni Center and establishment of the Bonfire Relief Fund following the bonfire collapse in 1999. Matson was named Outstanding Alumnus of Mays Business School in 1998 and a Distinguished Alumnus of Texas A&M University in 2001. He retains the title of executive director emeritus of The Association of Former Students. Matson joined the Texas A&M Foundation in 2003.
“My job at The Association of Former Students was to maintain an already-great alumni association,” Matson said. “I was following in the path of people like Dick Hervey and Buck Weirus, and I looked up to everything they achieved. During those years we had to deal with tremendous growth in our former student base and build a new home that would represent the tradition and strength of the Association. It took a lot of time and effort, but I’m proud of what we accomplished.”
“It was a great honor to work for the Texas A&M Foundation during the One Spirit One Vision campaign. I cherish the time I had with so many generous Aggies, many of whom I’ve known for the past 27 years.”
Matson and his wife of 40 years, Margaret, have three children: Jessica ’91; Jim ’93; and Cole ’96. Their two daughters-in-law, Carey ’97 and Somare ’92, also attended Texas A&M and their son-in-law, Russell, is a graduate of West Texas A&M University. He has six grandchildren.