ConocoPhillips, the third largest integrated energy company, donated $1 million to Texas A&M University May 1. A&M is one of eight schools in the U.S. to receive such a contribution.
ConocoPhillips has been giving to Texas A&M for decades, Texas A&M Foundation marketing communications specialist Mary Vinnedge said.
"This is a typical gift from ConocoPhillips," she said. "They have given to other programs in differing amounts, however. They are a longtime Texas A&M supporter."
The Department of Scholarships and Financial Aid received approximately $400,000 from the donation. Part of the department and one of the main recipients of the funds is the SPIRIT Scholars Program.
The SPIRIT Scholars Program, which operates at seven other universities, began at A&M in 2003 and provides "academic scholarships, additional financial support for enrichment programs and activities, mentoring opportunities with ConocoPhillips professionals and opportunities to interview for internships and full-time employment at ConocoPhillips," according to a press release by the Texas A&M Foundation.
"[The SPIRIT Scholarship] not only provides [recipients] with their money for schooling, but also the scholarship requires them to participate in enrichment activities each month," said Texas A&M SPIRIT Scholarship coordinator Judi Haas. "A different activity, that is cultural, community or leadership related, that each month a student will need to fulfill."
Activities that scholars participated in ranged from attending a show hosted by OPAS in March to volunteering at the Brazos River Valley Food Bank in December, Haas said.
Aggies participating in the SPIRIT Program must maintain a 3.25 grade-point average in order to keep their $5,000 per year scholarship with the possibility of an additional $1,000 if the student completes a successful internship with ConocoPhillips.
Along with the SPIRIT Scholarship, other academic units such as the Mays Business School, Dwight Look College of Engineering and the College of Geosciences receive a portion of the donation.
One hundred fifty thousand dollars was sent to the Mays Business School supporting various professional programs for both undergraduate and graduate students, said the Mays Business School director of development David Hicks.
The donation from ConocoPhillips is given to three departments within the Dwight Look College of Engineering school: petroleum, chemical, and mechanical.
The Petroleum Engineering department is seeking to gain funding from this donation for its increasing amount of undergraduate students, said the Dwight Look College of Engineering director of development Brady Bullard.
"I've been working on a lab reinvestment initiative to get new equipment for the Petroleum Engineering facilities," Bullard said. "The department is having to serve more and they're in a pretty dire need to upgrade to handle the student loads."
Graduate fellowships within the Petroleum and Chemical Engineering departments received a portion of the endowment.
The College of Geosciences received a portion of the donation, but could not be reached Monday.
Since ConocoPhillips began donating money to Texas A&M, its main objective has been to prepare students for success in the modern business world and to recruit outstanding students, according to the ConocoPhillips website.
"ConocoPhillips' goal is to support higher education," Bullard said. "From what I can see … they want to help students get a great education and produce graduates that will be assets in the workforce."