$2 Million Gift Aims To Make CEHD A Leader In Human Performance

Debbie and Mike Hilliard ’73 have committed $2 million to the Huffines Institute for Sports Medicine and Human Performance.

By Ashley Green, Texas A&M University College of Education and Human Development

With the goal of bringing more attention to Texas A&M and improving the impact the College of Education and Human Development has on the human performance field, Debbie and Mike Hilliard ’73 have committed $2 million to the Huffines Institute for Sports Medicine and Human Performance.

Mr. Hilliard began his time at Texas A&M in the College of Liberal Arts. In his last year, he discovered a passion for human performance in the College of Education and Human Development and changed his major, graduating in 1973.

He hopes this gift will have a long-term beneficial impact for the Huffines Institute, students and the human performance field as a whole.

“Hopefully, permanent positions on the staff and availability of funds for students in order to pursue their dreams in this field will be accomplished and the Huffines Institute can eventually get its own building, freeing up the need to lease space and equipment.”

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A portion of the Hilliard’s gift will be used to advance the mission of Huffines by upgrading production and broadcast quality, increasing the number of individuals able to view the Huffines Discussion online. The Huffines Discussion in the Huffines Institute will also be renamed the Debbie and Mike Hilliard ’73 Discussion.

“We see great benefit in the Huffines Discussion series and hope that it can continue to grow and attract bigger names and therefore more attention to Texas A&M and its efforts throughout the country,” explained Mr. Hilliard.

The Hilliard’s gift will also be used to provide fellowships for graduate students selected as the Debra and Michael Hilliard ’73 Huffines Scholar Endowment. The student will work in Huffines and with Texas A&M Athletics to provide performance testing and health screenings for student athletes and others involved in physical performance-based programs.

“The Huffines Institute’s mission aligns with the overall college priority of improving the quality of life among individuals and communities for a healthier Texas,” said Dr. Joyce Alexander, dean of the College of Education and Human Development. “We believe this gift will allow us to make an impact on the health of the general public as well as prepare our students to be leaders in the human performance field.”

Dr. Timothy Lightfoot, the Institute’s director, sees great benefit from the Hilliard’s gift. “These types of hands-on experiences are invaluable to students looking to increase both their clinical skills as well as their chances of post-graduate work.”

Dr. Lightfoot, as director of the Huffines Institute, will also receive support for teaching, research, service and professional development activities through the Debbie and Mike Hilliard ’73 Huffines Institute Chair endowment.

Because of Mr. Hilliard’s time with the College of Liberal Arts, the Hilliard’s also gave $3 million to establish the Debbie and Mike Hilliard ’73 Entrepreneurship and Innovation Endowment. The endowment will be used to provide scholarships for student entrepreneurship activities and faculty support for curriculum development in the creation and sustainability of a minor and certificate program.

“These days, our graduates must leave Texas A&M University with more than the traditional knowledge and skills a foundational Liberal Arts education provides them,” said Pamela Matthews, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “They also must have the ability to apply their knowledge to practical purposes as they enter the workforce. The generosity of Debbie and Mike Hilliard ’73 will give us the resources to develop programming and provide student scholarships in order to foster entrepreneurship and innovation in our students.”

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This story by Ashley Green originally appeared in Transform Lives.


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