The San Angelo rancher and businessman was instrumental in helping Texas Tech establish the Free Market Institute in 2013.
John A. “Matt” Matthews, whose philanthropy helped establish the Free Market Institute (FMI) at Texas Tech University, was honored with the Herman W. Lay Memorial Award by the Association of Private Enterprise Education (APEE).
Matthews, from Abilene, was instrumental in establishing the Free Market Institute in 2013. The FMI exists to advance the teaching and research related to free market enterprise through interdisciplinary scholarships, provide a forum to encourage those values through debate regarding free markets, and help create programs that bring Texas Tech and Lubbock together with public and scholarly entities around the world.
“I am honored and flattered to receive such a prestigious award,” Matthews said. “But what I am most proud of is the hard work the scholars at the Free Market Institute have done to make Texas Tech one of the leading universities in the United States in the teaching of free enterprise.”
The FMI brings together experts from a vast array of disciplines to participate in its endeavor, both academically and from private business.
Matthews started as a bulldozer operator at the Merrick-Davis Ranch before taking over ranching operations and eventually buying the ranch. At age 28, he purchased the Coors and Miller beer distributorships in San Angelo before developing the Matthews Land & Cattle Company, of which he became president. The company owns the historic Lambshead Ranch, which was settled by Matthews' grandparents in the 1800s.
He remains president of the company while also working on his private ranch, the Kickapoo Springs Ranch near San Angelo.
“This award was a well-deserved honor for Matt Matthews' generosity and vision,” said Benjamin Powell, a professor in the Department of Energy, Economics and Law at the Rawls College of Business and director of the Free Market Institute. “Matt's acceptance of the award, and the support shown from Chancellor Robert L. Duncan, Provost Lawrence Schovanec and other university officials through their attendance at the ceremony, sent a strong message to the national and international network of scholars that Texas Tech is committed to continuing to build a first-rate program dedicated to the study of the free enterprise system.”
When he was presented the award earlier this month, Matthews was praised for not just his efforts to start the FMI, but for being more interested in the results of the gift than just making the gift itself. He also gathered the right expertise and models that makes free enterprise successful and instituted them into the FMI.
The Herman W. Lay Memorial Award recognizes a person who represents successful philanthropy through either his or her personal or business life. It is named after Herman Lay, who went from a single snack food truck to become the chief executive officer of Pepsi Co. but whose philanthropy was widely known. He provided the key gift that allowed for the formation of the APEE.
“Each year, APEE searches for individuals who, in their business and public lives, have emulated the pattern of success and philanthropy that Herman Lay lived,” said APEE secretary/treasurer J.R. Clark said at the ceremony for Matthews. “Recipients of the Herman W. Lay Memorial Award are selected because they are representative of the best that the free enterprise system produces. By calling attention to their lives and to their actions, APEE hopes to stimulate other individuals to be equally supportive of free enterprise.”