STARKVILLE, Miss.--A $12.3 million gift from Mississippi State alumni Tommy and Terri Nusz of Houston, Texas, will benefit multiple academic colleges and units at the 135-year-old university.
The gift continues the Nusz' support of the land-grant institution and is one of the largest to date for the MSU Foundation's current fundraising endeavor, Infinite Impact: The Mississippi State University Campaign.
"This leadership-level commitment from MSU alumni Tommy and Terri Nusz will have a far-reaching impact in helping Mississippi State University provide leadership and advance its mission of education, outreach, and research," said MSU President Mark E. Keenum.
He continued, "This significant gift helps us continue the momentum in our capital campaign and will be invaluable as we provide funding for much-needed facilities, endowed positions in engineering and veterinary medicine, a pioneer school for research in education, generous support for American veterans, and enhancements for our athletic programs."
The gift brings the total raised for Infinite Impact to $375 million. The multi-year campaign was launched earlier this year and will continue fundraising toward a $600 million goal by 2018.
Tommy Nusz is president, CEO, and chairman of the board of Houston-based Oasis Petroleum. He co-founded the independent exploration and production company in 2007. In his more than 30 years in the oil and gas industry, he worked as an engineer for Superior Oil, Mobil Oil and Meridian Oil before being named vice president for several divisions of Burlington Resources, which was eventually acquired by Conoco Phillips. He also is a National Petroleum Council member.
Nusz said, "Our recent gift to Mississippi State is a manifestation of our family's love of the university. Each of us selected areas of MSU where we believed we could make the most impact within the university and out into the world."
Because of the gift's unique structure, the Nusz' link to Mississippi State athletics, academics, and support of American veterans will continue in perpetuity.
The couple met as MSU students and graduated in 1982. Tommy earned a degree in petroleum engineering, while Terri, of Memphis, Tenn., graduated in interior design. They are joined in their philanthropy by their children -- son Brant, an MSU junior management major, and daughter Meagan, who attended Texas Christian University.
As a Mississippi State engineering alumnus, Tommy Nusz wants to bolster the reputation of the James Worth Bagley College of Engineering, one of approximately 40 named engineering colleges in the nation. To that end, the gift provides $250,000 for a strategic initiative fund to be utilized by the engineering dean, and $1 million to create the Nusz Engineering Student Excellence Endowment for such areas as study abroad and technology society memberships.
Additionally, a $1.75 million allotment will create the Thomas B. Nusz Endowed Chair. Endowment earnings will provide a salary supplement and holder support with a focus on petroleum- and energy-related study. Also, $1 million will help construct a new engineering and science building to house the Civil and Environmental Engineering department.
Also, $2 million will lead construction of a new facility for the G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery Center for America's Veterans. The center is a national leader in providing campus-based veteran resources in support of 2,000 currently enrolled student veterans, service members, dependents and survivors. MSU was recently ranked in the top 30 by U.S. News & World Report in its first-ever listing of veteran-friendly institutions.
"We realize what it takes for military personnel and their families to regain a certain quality of life after serving their country. We want to support those who currently serve in the military on our behalf and honor our relatives who previously served to preserve our freedom," Tommy Nusz said.
The Nusz connection with Mississippi State began when Tommy's dad, Dave Nusz, was hired as a defensive backfield coach for the Bulldog football team from 1970-1972. Because of the family's passion for sports, the gift extends to this area and builds on past contributions to support football and women's basketball.
Specifically, $2 million will serve as a lead gift toward constructing a new Olympic sports facility at MSU. Meagan Nusz, an accomplished equestrian, competes as part of the U.S. Equestrian team, and the family wants to encourage student achievement in Olympic sports. Also, $300,000 will establish the Meagan Nusz Excellence in Women's Sports Fund to generate more emphasis in this area, and an additional $1 million will support several sports programs, including baseball, women's basketball, softball and volleyball.
Continuing their focus on equine health, a portion of their gift assists the College of Veterinary Medicine with an endowed position known as the Terri Nusz Endowed Equine Professorship. Earnings from the $1 million endowment will provide a faculty holder salary supplement and support in teaching and research. Terri Nusz oversees the family's various interests in equine sport including TnT Equine Partners, Amalaya Investments, and Oasis Stables, and they want to encourage faculty efforts in equine study.
The Nusz gift also benefits the College of Education and a proposed Partnership School, which is a unique opportunity for the college and the Starkville-Oktibbeha County Schools. The partnership would create a pre-kindergarten through 12th grade school adjacent to the MSU campus for research on rural education and as a demonstration model for current students and educators in the state and nation. The $1 million gift will assist with construction and help provide start-up needs.
Any remaining funds of the more than $12 million gift will be held for future university use as determined by the family.
For more on the university's fundraising activities and Infinite Impact campaign, visit www.infiniteimpactmsu.com.