Campus Life

Mays Family Foundation Donates $25 Million For Graduate Education Building

The gift is the largest single donation in Mays Business School's history.
By Texas A&M University Mays Business School Marketing and Communications April 29, 2024

Group photo at the awards presentation of John Sharp, Nate Sharp, Kathy Mays Johnson, Paige Johnson and Tyson Voelkel
John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System; Nate Sharp, Mays Business School dean; Kathy Mays Johnson, Mays Family Foundation chair; Paige Johnson, Mays family member; and Tyson Voelkel, Texas A&M Foundation president.

Courtesy of Mays Business School


A $25 million gift from the Mays Family Foundation will support the construction of a new graduate education building in the Mays Business Education Complex (BEC) at Texas A&M University. This gift was announced during a ceremony Friday, April 26.

The foundation’s donation is the largest single donation in Mays Business School’s history, and it is one of the largest gifts to an academic program at Texas A&M University. The gift, provided through the Texas A&M Foundation, continues the philanthropic legacy of the Mays family and highlights the powerful commitment of Texas A&M’s former students to their alma mater.

“Lowry Mays and his family have been giving back to Texas A&M for a lifetime,” said General (Ret.) Mark A. Welsh III, president of Texas A&M University. “This incredible gift adds another layer to their contributions to Texas A&M and to Aggies who want to follow in Mr. Mays’ remarkable footsteps.”

This gift also marks an important milestone in Mays Business School’s drive to become the nation’s preeminent public business school. “This generous investment by the Mays Family Foundation will help us continue to fulfill our vision of building a better future through business,” said Mays Dean Nate Sharp. “Having a building dedicated specifically to excellence in graduate education showcases our school’s commitment to recruiting the best and brightest graduate students and developing leaders of character who exemplify the Aggie Core Values throughout their careers.”

Mays continues to make its mark in graduate education. Several of the school’s graduate programs are among the top programs in the nation, such as the M.S. Analytics Program (ranked #1 online program in 2024 by Fortune) and the Executive MBA Program (ranked #1 in Texas in 2024 by Fortune).

The new building will support increased enrollments and innovative graduate learning opportunities for current programs as well as new programs designed to meet emerging needs, including a suite of new Mays Flex Online master’s programs and the new Engineering MBA program.

Enhancing and expanding graduate programs at Mays Business School will support the school’s drive to preeminence.

“Our foundation has a history of using philanthropy as a source of capital to fund projects for all types of nonprofits to generate free cash flow in support of their mission,” said Mays Family Foundation Chair Kathy Mays Johnson . “This is a perfect example of that strategy, so it is fitting that the Mays name will be associated with this project, which will be a tipping point for the Mays Business Education Complex. We believe Dean Sharp and his leadership team have a compelling vision and plan for Mays Business School, and it is our honor to help facilitate it.”

The Mays family’s involvement with Texas A&M began with Lowry Mays ’57, who earned a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering.

“My father credited his time at Texas A&M, which included serving in the Corps of Cadets and his studies in the School of Petroleum Engineering, as being one of the most important influences in his life,” Johnson said. “He was proud to say the lessons he learned at Texas A&M solidified his core values while the education he received enabled him to accomplish the success he had in his life.”

After a short period working in petroleum engineering, Mays changed direction to pursue a business career.

“Dad earned an MBA from Harvard, so he saw the value of that type of training firsthand,” Johnson said. “He wanted future Aggies to be able to benefit from a similarly top-notch MBA program but one that is steeped in Texas A&M’s Core Values.”

Mays initially entered investment banking in San Antonio and eventually formed his own company. He was asked to co-sign a note for the purchase of an FM radio station in the 1970s — and eventually became the station’s owner. His willingness to learn about the media industry, combined with his strong entrepreneurial sense and business acumen, led to the founding of Clear Channel Communications, a market leader in media and advertising.

Despite the professional demands of being Clear Channel’s CEO, Mays made time for his alma mater. The San Antonio businessman served two non-consecutive terms (1985-1991 and 2001-2007) on The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents, including a term as chairman from 2003-2005.

Over the years, he also provided significant financial support to the business school. His giving included a $15 million endowment to the school of business in 1996 that resulted in the naming of the school in his honor and another $25 million across multiple gifts to the school in 2017. The new $25 million gift now brings the Mays family’s support for Mays Business School to $72 million.

Lowry Mays passed away on Sept. 12, 2022, at 87 years of age. However, his influence lives on through his family’s involvement at Texas A&M. His granddaughter, Paige Johnson ’21, is a graduate of Mays Business School and a member of the Mays Dean’s Advisory Board.

The Mays Family Foundation’s latest gift will support the school’s commitment to extending and enhancing its graduate programs, something the school’s namesake would applaud.

“Dad was known for his entrepreneurial acumen and his leadership skills,” Johnson said. “He played a pivotal role in growing Mays Business School and we are looking forward to seeing the MBA program and other graduate programs grow beyond measure while meeting changing industry needs, so that we are the preeminent public business school in the country.”

This article originally appeared on the Mays Business School website.

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