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WTAMU Receives Major Gift from Happy State Bank

Feb. 27, 2018

CONTACT:    Joe Bill Sherrod, 806-651-3252, jsherrod@wtamu.edu
                     J. Pat Hickman, 806-342-2400, jph@happybank.com

COPY BY:    Rana McDonald, 806-651-2129, rmcdonald@wtamu.edu

WTAMU Receives Major Gift from Happy State Bank


CANYON, Texas—Officials at West Texas A&M University announced Tuesday a major gift of $2.5 million from Happy State Bank along with the naming of one of its newest facilities—The Happy State Bank Academic and Research Building, as approved by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents at its February meeting. The building, part of the University’s new Agricultural Sciences Complex, will house collaborative learning spaces, a state-of-the-art meats laboratory, retail meat market, café, classrooms, research labs and faculty and administration offices for the WTAMU Department of Agriculture.

The gift ranks among the top five largest gifts in the history of WTAMU and is the largest charitable contribution ever made by Happy State Bank to any organization.

“We are extremely grateful to Happy State Bank for their generous donation. This is the kind of support from the local community that will be vital for the continued success of West Texas A&M University,” said Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp. “The Happy State Bank Academic and Research Building will educate many generations of future agriculture professionals and leave a profound legacy in the Texas Panhandle.”

The generous gift puts the University closer to its $10 million fund-raising goal set for the Agricultural Sciences Complex. Several naming opportunities are available, and the Happy State Bank gift marks the largest gift to the project to date. The Agricultural Sciences Complex, located at Russell Long Boulevard and Hospital Drive, encompasses the three-story Happy State Bank Academic and Research Building as well as a multi-purpose ag event center, the Piehl-Schaeffer Pavilion, an outdoor classroom and a courtyard. Agricultural sciences programs are among the fastest growing majors at WTAMU, and the new complex will benefit teaching and research in an expanded space designed to accommodate an ever-expanding faculty and student body. Construction began in October 2016, and the facilities will be ready for occupancy for the fall 2018 semester.

“West Texas A&M University is so grateful to Happy State Bank and its many years of support to our students and programs,” Dr. Walter Wendler, WTAMU president, said. “The University is a stronger institution because of generous donors like Happy State Bank, and we are proud that its name will be associated with one of the most advanced agricultural teaching complexes in the nation.”

The bank was established in 1908 in Happy, Texas. Two years later, L.T. Lester, founder of the bank, personally donated $10,000 to the campaign to bring the college to the town of Canyon. Happy State Bank has supported everything from arts to athletics at WTAMU. The Happy State Bank Studio Theatre in the Sybil B. Harrington Fine Arts Complex provides a black box theatre learning space for students and a 120-seat venue for area theatre patrons. There also is the Happy State Bank Classroom in the University’s Classroom Center for students in the Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business. The college also is home to the Hickman Endowed Professorship in Marketing, established in 2008 by Happy State Bank in honor of J. Pat Hickman and his leadership of the bank. In addition, the bank’s extensive list of support includes other scholarships, lectures, events and programming.

“The Bank has grown up with WT and Agriculture. We are rooted historically, geographically and economically with agriculture and WTAMU,” J. Pat Hickman, chairman and CEO of Happy State Banks, said. “Our first office outside of Happy was in Canyon. We are proud of the multitude of WT graduates that are Happy customers, employees and stockholders. We are proud to be the third largest agriculture lender in the state of Texas.  Continuing our legacy of supporting WT with our largest gift ever, specifically benefiting agriculture in this area, is proper and fitting. We are Happy for this opportunity to help.”

Happy State Bank was first chartered in 1908 in the small Panhandle town of Happy. The bank was recently recognized as the 14th fasted growing community bank in the country.  The bank’s footprint includes 35 branches in more than 25 communities stretching from the Texas Panhandle and South Plains to the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex.


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