STARKVILLE, Miss.--A $10 million gift by a 1972 Mississippi State graduate and his wife will endow an honors college at the university.
The endowment by Bobby and Judy Shackouls of Houston, Texas, was announced Tuesday [April 11] by President Charles Lee during a campus ceremony commemorating his April 15 retirement as MSU's 17th chief executive.
Lee said the Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College will allow the 128-year-old university to expand its undergraduate honors programs--the state's oldest and largest. He called the gift "an extraordinary act of vision and generosity."
Lee said the couple's support also will allow the land-grant institution to add new undergraduate research fellowships, study abroad scholarships and funding for research-related travel, as well as expanding visiting scholars and guest speakers programs.
The donation brings to more than $300 million in the total amount of funds raised in MSU's current capital campaign known as "State of the Future."
Bobby Shackouls, a Greenville native and an MSU chemical engineering graduate, recently retired as chairman, president and chief executive officer of Burlington Resources Inc.
Bobby Shackouls' retirement followed the company's acquisition by Conoco-Phillips Inc., an integrated international energy company. He joined Burlington in 1993 after holding executive positions with Exxon, Houston Oil and Minerals, Houston Oil Fields Co., Plains Resources, and Torch Energy Advisers.
In addition to serving as a board member of the MSU Foundation, Shackouls is an Alumni Fellow of the Bagley College of Engineering and serves on the dean's development council in the college.
In anticipation of the honors college designation, the university earlier this year reserved classroom, office and living space for its 38-year-old honors program in S. Bryce Griffis Residence Hall, which now is under construction in the new Northeast Village complex. Named for a longtime MSU benefactor and former College Board member from Starkville, the campus facility opens this fall.
Lee said, "This gift from Judy and Bobby Shackouls will create a living-learning honors community that will help keep many of the state's best and brightest students in Mississippi, rather than being lured away to prestigious out-of-state institutions.
"It also will afford them a college experience that is second to none," he added.
Shackouls said the gift is an investment in one of Mississippi's most important resources--the young men and women who are its future.
"It is indeed an honor and a privilege to give back just a little bit of what this great institution has meant to my life and career," he noted. "Judy and I always enjoy our trips back to campus because of the enthusiastic students, the dedicated staff and talented faculty of Mississippi State."
Commenting specifically on the Shackouls Honors College, he said that the gift "is just another small step in providing the resources to let the rest of the nation know what MSU alumni already know, and that is that Mississippi State University is among the finest institutions in America and a great place to get a college education."
Enrolling more than 1,000 academically talented students in small classes, MSU's honors program--and, now, Shackouls Honors College--is led by veteran psychology professor Nancy McCarley. Designed specifically to foster inquiry and in-depth learning, the program is a charter member of the Southern Regional Honors Council.
"An expansion of this magnitude ensures an enriched and supportive environment for our most exceptionally qualified students," said McCarley.
"It also serves to affirm our commitment to providing students with the intimacy of a small college and the breadth of a large research institution."
The Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College is an open fund in the MSU Foundation that may be increased through additional contributions. For more information, telephone John Rush, director of major gifts, at (662) 325-1108.