Business & Government

Odessa Couple Receives Texas A&M Foundation’s Highest Honor

March 23, 2018

Rhonda and Frosty Gilliam Jr. '80 were recognized as 2018 recipients of the Texas A&M Foundation's prestigious Sterling C. Evans Medal Award.
Rhonda and Frosty Gilliam Jr. ’80 were recognized as 2018 recipients of the Texas A&M Foundation’s prestigious Sterling C. Evans Medal Award.
By Dorian Martin, Texas A&M Foundation

The Texas A&M Foundation Board of Trustees has recognized Rhonda and Frosty Gilliam Jr. ’80 as 2018 recipients of the prestigious Sterling C. Evans Medal. The award, which is the Foundation’s highest honor, was bestowed on the Odessa couple during a dinner yesterday evening.

Selected by the Foundation’s trustees annually, Evans Medal recipients have a long history of supporting Texas A&M through philanthropy, service and leadership. Honorees have supported scholarships, student development, faculty, athletic programs and academic innovation. They have also given their time on committees and boards that are instrumental in maintaining Texas A&M’s place among the world’s top public higher education institutions.

“The Gilliams are stalwart members of the Aggie community who have generously shared their time, talent and resources over the years,” said T. Randall Cain ’82, chairman of the Texas A&M Foundation Board of Trustees. “Their influence extends across Texas A&M’s campus. The Gilliams have been instrumental in helping our petroleum engineering program remain a global leader and our athletics programs become a dominating force.”

The Perfect Timing for a Great Career

A native of Odessa, Frosty began working in the petroleum industry as a teenager in his father’s oil field service company, an experience that changed his professional trajectory. “I initially was going to major in bioengineering, but after working in the oil field with my dad, I switched to petroleum engineering,” he said. “Texas A&M had then—and continues to have now—the best petroleum engineering program, and fortunately, my timing was exceptional because it was right before the next big oil boom.”

Eight years after graduation, Frosty founded Aghorn Energy Inc., an oil and gas exploration company, with his brother, who attended The University of Texas. “Fortunately, I was the older brother and the engineer, so ‘Ag’ got to go first in our company name,” he explained with a chuckle.

His professional success has led to numerous accolades: Texas A&M’s Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering’s Academy of Distinguished Graduates in 2009; the Odessa Heritage Foundation’s 2009 Statesman for Business; Texas A&M’s College of Engineering Distinguished Alumnus in 2012; and the Odessa Chamber of Commerce’s 2012 Outstanding Citizen of the Year.

Renewing Aggie Ties

After graduating from Texas A&M, Frosty spent two decades focused on building his company and raising his family. “I’m the classic case of the 20-year disconnected Aggie,” he said. “We didn’t go back to Texas A&M until my son was exploring colleges.”

When Forrest “Matt” Gilliam III enrolled at Texas A&M in 2005, the Gilliams renewed their involvement with the university. Frosty reconnected with the petroleum engineering department, and the couple bought their first season football tickets. Rhonda, a graduate of Sam Houston State, fully immersed herself into the Aggie life and became active in the Sandstorm Aggie Mom’s Club in Odessa.

Because of their continued involvement with Texas A&M, Rhonda and Frosty are frequent visitors to the Bryan-College Station area. They currently serve on the Lead by Example campaign’s executive cabinet, while Frosty has served on the 12th Man Foundation Board as trustee, chair and now as immediate past chair. Rhonda and Frosty are also members of the Chancellor’s Century Council, and Frosty is involved with the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering Industry Board.

Supporting Academics and Athletics

The Gilliams believe deeply in giving back and have been strong supporters of their church and community as well as Texas A&M. “Being a good steward of God’s provisions is foremost in our charitable giving, so our local church and other ministries are the recipients of most of our resources,” Frosty said.

The couple has provided significant financial support to Texas A&M’s College of Engineering through the creation of a petroleum engineering professorship in memory of Frosty’s father and two petroleum engineering scholarships. The couple made the lead gift to the Stephen A. Holditch ’69 Department Head Chair in Petroleum Engineering and funded the Brenda Bridges and Dr. Bill McCain Scholarship in Petroleum Engineering in their honor. They were also significant contributors to the Clayton W. Williams, Jr. Alumni Center remodeling project, headquarters of The Association of Former Students.

In addition, the Gilliams have dedicated much of their giving to supporting Texas A&M’s athletic programs. They provided the lead gifts for the Rhonda and Frosty Gilliam Jr. ’80 Indoor Track Stadium and substantial gifts for the Rhonda and Frosty Gilliam Jr. ’80 Plaza in the Cox-McFerrin Center for Aggie Basketball; the Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park baseball stadium renovation project; and the Rhonda and Frosty Gilliam Jr. ’80 Football Student Athlete Center in the Bright Football Complex. The couple also made a significant donation to the Kyle Field renovation project as Founders.

The Gilliams’ continued support of and involvement in Texas A&M is based on the strong relationships they have fostered across the university. “To us, Texas A&M is about family,” Frosty said. “Most of the events we attend are with our family, including our daughter Laura and granddaughters Jaden and Faylynn, and our extended family—our Aggie friends. When we give back to Texas A&M, it is like helping our family. We wouldn’t have it any other way.”

The other recipients of the 2018 Sterling C. Evans Medal are Patricia “Trisha” and Charles “Chaz” Neely ’62 of San Antonio.

Texas A&M Foundation

The Texas A&M Foundation is a nonprofit organization that unites generosity and vision to raise and manage major endowed gifts that support the future of Texas A&M University. For additional information and for photographs, please contact Dunae Crenwelge at or (979) 845-7461.

“Lead by Example” Campaign

Launched in 2015, Texas A&M University’s third comprehensive fundraising campaign, “Lead by Example,” is a joint effort between Texas A&M and its affiliate organizations: the Texas A&M Foundation, The Association of Former Students, the 12th Man Foundation and the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation. With a goal of reaching $4 billion by 2020, it is the largest higher education campaign in Texas history and the third largest conducted nationally by a public university. The campaign will generate gifts in three major areas: Transformational Education; Discovery and Innovation; and Impact on the State, Nation and World.

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