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October 2010

Release Date: Oct. 4, 2010ASU Logo

$1 Million Chair in Agriculture Funded by Davidson Foundation of Midland

A $1 million grant to establish the “James A. ‘Buddy’ Davidson Charitable Foundation Chair in Agriculture” has been announced by Angelo State University President Joseph C. Rallo as part of the $25 million capital campaign for ASU.

The endowed faculty position will be filled in 2012, once the grant is fully funded by the James A. “Buddy” Davidson Charitable Foundation of Midland. When the endowment is complete, ASU will seek a professor of national reputation in agriculture education to become the inaugural Davidson Chair in Agriculture.

“As one of our programs of distinction,” said Rallo, “agriculture has an exceptional reputation statewide and a long record of producing graduates well equipped for careers in agriculture and agribusiness. The generous gift from the James A. “Buddy” Davidson Charitable Foundation not only recognizes that reputation, but also stands to enhance it because of the prestige that comes with endowments for faculty chairs.”

The endowed chair is the second funded by the James A. “Buddy” Davidson Charitable Foundation and the gift matches the largest given to date as part of the “Campaign for Angelo State University,” a $25 million capital campaign which is part of a larger $1 billion campaign for all components of the Texas Tech University System (TTUS).

TTUS Chancellor Kent Hance said, “We appreciate all that the Davidson Charitable Foundation has done for Angelo State and the Texas Tech University System. Gifts like this provide the university with an unprecedented opportunity to attract excellent faculty, as well as continue our growth and maintain our leadership position in agriculture teaching, research and development.”

Endowed chairs are used to enhance a professor’s salary and to provide additional funds for research, teaching and service activities. To be the holder of a chair is one of the most prestigious honors a professor can attain and, as such, provides an attractive tool for recruiting renowned faculty.

The endowed faculty position will support ASU’s new Bachelor of Science program in agricultural education and leadership. Approved for implementation this fall, the program is designed to address the shortage of qualified high school agriculture teachers across the state.

Dr. Gil Engdahl, head of ASU’s Agriculture Department, said, “There’s just a huge number of ag teacher jobs that are open. The sad thing is that a lot of school districts are filling them with students who just don’t have the background. They get temporary teaching certificates, but don’t have the needed background in ag mechanics, like welding, wood work and other skills you need in production agriculture, where our ag program has made its name.”

When Engdahl began teaching at Angelo State in 1976, about 85 percent of ag majors came to campus with practical skills learned while growing up on farms or ranches. Today, about the same percentage comes to campus without rural backgrounds. Thus, ASU’s 6,000-acre ranch and Management, Instruction and Research (MIR) Center provide a valuable laboratory with facilities that surpass those at many land-grant institutions nationally.

The Davidson Chair in Agriculture is ASU’s third faculty position endowed at the $1 million level. All three have come since the summer of 2007 when Rallo became ASU’s president.

“One of my initial goals,” said Rallo, “was to establish at least one endowed chair at the million-dollar level in each of our undergraduate colleges. The Davidson Chair in Agriculture represents our third endowed chair and our third college, the College of Sciences.”

In 2007 Lloyd Norris presented ASU a $1 million check on behalf of himself, his wife, Sheri, and daughters Angela and Chancey, to establish the Norris Family Chair in International Business in the College of Business. That position is now held by Dr. Detelin Elenkov, a native of Bulgaria and one of this nation’s most prolific contributors to economic research on Central and Eastern Europe.

ASU’s second endowed chair was created in early 2009 when the James A. “Buddy” Davidson Charitable Foundation pledged $1 million to establish the James A. “Buddy” Davidson Chair in Nursing Excellence in the College of Nursing and Allied Health. Nursing is another of ASU’s academic programs of distinction. That position is expected to be filled in the fall of 2011.

Rallo said, “All of us at Angelo State University are grateful to the James A. “Buddy” Davidson Charitable Foundation for the most generous support shown to ASU and our academic programs of distinction.”