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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Partner in Philanthropy Faculty Award given to 3 professors

Provided via Texas A&M Foundation

(Left to right) Mark Hussey, Van Taylor, Otway Denny, M. Edward Rister, one of the recipients of the Partner on Philanthropy

Faculty Award, Tyson Voelkel and Jorge Bermúdez present the award to the recipients.

Three distinguished A&M faculty members received the Partner in Philanthropy Faculty Award given by the Texas A&M Foundation in January to recognize employees who have shown dedication to philanthropy at the university.
This year the award was presented to M. Edward Rister, agriculture economics professor and the namesake of the M. Edward Rister ’74 Chair in Rural Entrepreneurship in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, chemistry professor Janet Bluemel and her husband, John Gladysz, chemistry professor and legatee of the Dow Chair in Chemical Invention in the College of Science. Nominated by the Texas A&M Foundation staff and development officers, recipients of the award are selected by the seven members on the Board of Trustees.
Chairman of the Texas A&M Foundation Bill Toler said the purpose of the award is to recognize outstanding faculty who have decided to share part of their wealth with students and other potential faculty in the future of A&M.
“The main criteria is to recognize Texas A&M faculty that have reinvested some of their own personal wealth back into the university in a meaningful way,” Toler said. “Dr. Rister did it to his own department as have Dr. Gladysz and Dr. Bluemel.”
Rister and his wife graduated from A&M in 1974 and he attended Michigan State University for his doctorate. He began teaching agricultural economics at A&M in 1981 and additionally became the associate head of the department.
“I was told if I ever wanted to work here, to leave and go to school somewhere else,” Rister said. “So we went to Michigan State from ‘77 to ‘81. So I’ve been back here since June of ‘81, and I’ve done a lot of different things. But in the most recent years, both associated with my courses in agribusiness entrepreneurship and then working for the department as associate head, I had development responsibilities.”
In his work with former students, Rister said he is humbled by the overall contributions from former students including donated scholarships, generated donations and endowments from different departments.
“It was a huge surprise, because … It’s one of those awards you don’t know about, but then also it’s pretty humbling working with the former students and their involvement, what they say they about our program is that we’ve given them ‘some ownership,’ and they are involved,” Rister said.
While Rister was one of the three recipients of the award, he credited the honor as a team effort including former students, people at the Texas A&M Foundation, as well as the staff in his department.
“I’ve been very blessed since I came back here with support from former students, and this one here I think is a team award, it isn’t just for me because by myself, I don’t get a whole lot done,” Rister said.
Taught by Rister, the Rural Entrepreneurship class, AGEC 424 and 425, began donating a scholarship in 2010 and each continuing class continues to carry on the tradition.
“In 2010, that class started their own scholarship, and every class since 2010 I have given a scholarship to the current class,” Rister said. “Those kind of things, they catch you from left field. The first impression was, ‘Gee, why me?’ And then again knowing it’s more than me.”
Gladysz and Bluemel do not have children, and therefore wanted to donate money to the university in their estate.       “I think the university looks for a lot of things,” Gladysz said. “They want help with donors, they want people to hold up faculty as examples … Both my wife and I, we don’t have any children. So in our estate, we’ll be giving some money to the university also for faculty chairs.”
Before coming to A&M in 2007, both professors taught in Germany — Bluemel at Heidelberg in and Gladysz at a university north of Nuremberg. After both received offers to teach Texas A&M, Gladysz said he and his wife felt privileged to be brought to the university together.
“What we hope is that it’s going to leverage our legacy, but in a way that we want to be catalysts that increase giving to the university,” Gladysz said. “And that’s what we want to do. We want to see other people step up and help with all these needs that we have, all these needs that state can’t meet, so every time everybody else gives that maybe we had a small part in that.”
As someone raised in a family that has given money on behalf of supporting higher education, Gladysz described the encouragement of donorship towards faculty and former students as a potential chain reaction.
“I think the thing I’m most proud of is that in my family, my mom and dad died about two years ago, and my sister and myself there are no descendants,” Gladysz said. “I’m just glad that we’re all in as a family…And then the other part is just that this great university here becomes even better.”

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