Texas Tech University sets records for philanthropic support.
The experience at Texas Tech University empowers students to be the best versions of themselves and to go out and change the world. Byron Kennedy, vice president for the Office of Advancement at Texas Tech, truly believes that. In fiscal year 2022, the Office of Advancement raised $234 million in philanthropic support, over $104 pledged to athletics, shattering records but not expectations. After all, records are broken by the determination of those committed to good works.
Those good works inspired Joyce and Gordon Davis to commit $45 million to Texas Tech, most of which will benefit the people and programs in the Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources. It's the largest single investment in the university's 100-year history. Regents Cody Campbell and Dustin Womble gave $25 million and $20 million respectively, pushing gifts to athletics to over $100 million.
“People are giving back to their home colleges, but you're also seeing giving throughout the university,” explains Kennedy. “Things like general scholarships, student support, the food pantry, emergency fund – people are branching out of the classic gifts that have been made into just broad support of students, faculty and our programs.”
Kennedy is mission-driven. He leads a team of more than 30 people skilled in developing support that has driven the maturation of decades-long relationships. And the number of people helping, as well as being helped, is growing.
“Philanthropy isn't something exclusive to the ultra-wealthy – only to people that see great work and want to be involved,” he says.
In August 2022, the Office of Advancement launched its first-ever Day of Giving to showcase great projects happening across Texas Tech that the public might not be aware of. Roughly 1,400 donors raised $340,000 through 1,923 minutes of the campaign.
If it is true that people speak with their pocketbooks, then a record number of voices have, in chorus, said that the students Texas Tech produces are exactly what the world needs.
Evelyn Davies, a 98-year-old prominent donor recently shared with Kennedy what she sees Texas Tech producing: smart, young, capable problem solvers.
"She gives us validation and confidence on the mission," Kennedy said of Davies' evaluation.
Davies invested money to support a high school drone competition held in the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering. To thank her, the student competitors made a “Top Gun” style flight jacket embroidered with her name.
“She believes education is the great equalizer,” expands Kennedy. “It's the trajectory builder. She is on the mission.”
The mission is to offer people opportunities to invest in the world-changing impact Texas Tech students deliver. It requires a collection of plans, projections and course corrections to meet the needs of every department. Each quarter, the team reviews the book and rallies to meet the mission's goals.
“All at once, there is no pressure and a tremendous amount of pressure,” Kennedy notes. “The biggest risk wouldn't be that we set a goal we didn't make; it's that we didn't set a big enough goal.”
Texas Tech's centennial in 2023 offers the ideal opportunity to set big goals. Alumni, faculty, staff, students and community spanning several generations will celebrate, beginning at the 64th annual Carol of Lights, the way Texas Tech has opened doors to life's possibilities. It is Kennedy's fundamental belief that philanthropy starts at the door.
“There's a difference between charity and philanthropy,” Kennedy highlights. “Charity is ‘Here's $5; I hope things work out for you.' Philanthropy is generous dollars angled for impact – they have a measurable difference. I think people want to hold us accountable to impact. That's the relationship we want.”