Texas A&M Foundation Raises $10.5 Million For Student Center Renovation

The Texas A&M Foundation has raised $10.5 million for the Memorial Student Center (MSC) renovation — more than halfway to the $20 million requested by Texas A&M University for the project.

An emotional tie to the MSC often prompts these private gifts, which allow contributors to name pillars and spaces in the MSC with the approval of the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents, said David Wilkinson, who directs the MSC fundraising campaign for the Texas A&M Foundation.

Retired Army Col. Robert F. Gonzales, for instance, plans to have a conference room named after his parents, Rachel and Ralph Gonzales, and himself through his gift to the Our MSC: A Tribute to Honor fundraising campaign.

“Daddy was class of 1953, so he was a student when the MSC was being built and when it opened. Mom and I were with him,” said Gonzales, class of 1968 at Texas A&M. “I can remember getting my monthly haircut in the MSC barbershop in the basement, and I considered it a big treat to eat in the MSC cafeteria, which did not happen often. Daddy and Mother had part-time jobs on campus at Guion Hall, and both had a contribution to the MSC building fund deducted from their pay every two weeks.”

During his Texas A&M student years, Gonzales regularly attended meetings in the MSC.

“I worked with SCONA [Student Conference On National Affairs] my sophomore year and with Town Hall [concerts] my junior and senior years. I was the chairman of Town Hall my senior year, when we started the Rotary Club-Community Series of plays, symphonies and musical ensembles that over the years matured into what is now OPAS,” an acronym for Opera and Performing Arts Society.

“The MSC means a lot to us,” Gonzales added. “We feel closer to that building than any other building on campus. I am very, very happy to be doing this for my parents and me.”

The MSC, which closed for construction in August 2009, functions as Texas A&M’s student union and as a memorial to Aggies who gave their lives for their country. Dedicated in 1951, the original MSC was built for a student body of 6,600, and enrollment at Texas A&M exceeded 50,000 students in fall 2011 for the first time.

The expanded and reconfigured MSC will have more meeting rooms for the 19 MSC programming committees that present 300-plus educational, entertaining and charitable programs each year. More than 1,500 students gain leadership experience through their work with these MSC programs in any given academic year.

Reopening in April 2012, the MSC will prominently pay tribute to the seven Aggies who were awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism during military service.

The project, expected to cost $125 million, will bring the facility in line with current building codes and Americans with Disabilities Act standards. Changes to the building harmonize with the original architecture but will create a lighter, more-spacious interior.

Through a fee increase adopted in 2007, students are funding $82 million of the renovation. Texas A&M University asked the Texas A&M Foundation to assist with fundraising in 2008. After Board of Regents’ approval, Texas A&M will recognize gifts from former students and other supporters with permanent displays on pillars in the building, on major entrances and even in the courtyard near Rudder Tower.

Many naming opportunities are still available. For details, contact the Texas A&M Foundation’s David Wilkinson or Cindy Munson at (800) 392-3310, d-wilkinson@tamu.edu or c-munson@tamu.edu. The Foundation accepts online gifts at giving.tamu.edu/SupportMSC.

For more information about the Foundation, an independent nonprofit organization that raises and manages major gifts for Texas A&M University academics, visit giving.tamu.edu.

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