Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124,
CANYON, Texas — For the first time in more than 10 years, West Texas A&M University has a newly established school, following a $3 million gift from Amarillo National Bank—the largest gift in the bank’s history.
With the gift and its Feb. 9 approval by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents, the Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance in the Paul & Virginia Engler College of Business will be elevated to a school, WT and ANB officials announced at a Feb. 14 news conference in Harrington Academic Hall WTAMU Amarillo Center.
“We’re honored to support the One West campaign because this is turning point for the University and future generations will benefit from it,” ANB President William Ware said. “Plus, our partnership with WT is a critical part of our recruiting strategy. In fact, the majority of our Amarillo and Canyon team has graduated from WT so we look for it on a resume.”
The newly named Amarillo National Bank School of Accounting, Economics and Finance makes the program a larger and more distinctive unit within the Engler College of Business. A request for approval of the naming and restructuring has been submitted to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
A director for the ANB School of Accounting, Economics and Finance will be announced soon.
ANB’s gift also will establish the Ware University Distinguished Professor, yet to be named. This will be the only University-level faculty endowment at WT. It may be filled by an instructor from any discipline across campus and will report directly to the President.
The professor, when selected, will research areas of free-market economies that are related to rural family businesses and rural family entrepreneurism; the role of rural families in the American economy; and/or how rural family industries support a free-market economy and society. The professor has yet to be named.
With the gift, WT is “tantalizingly close” to reaching its $125 million goal in the historic One West comprehensive fundraising campaign, said campaign co-chair David Schaeffer.
To date, the five-year campaign — which publicly launched in September 2021 — has raised more than $120 million. It fuels the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.
“We thank the Ware family and Amarillo National Bank for investing in WT,” Schaeffer said. “Your investments go far beyond the University. Your gifts are truly an investment in the people of the Panhandle.”
WT President Walter V. Wendler also thanked the Ware family, which founded and still runs Amarillo National Bank.
“As important as the money is, the lending of your family’s name and reputation to WT through your giving is priceless,” Wendler said. “There is no dollar figure that can be attached to that gift. We humbly accept the responsibility that goes along with attaching the Ware family and Amarillo National Bank name to the mission of WT.”
Having the name of the largest family-owned bank in the U.S. bestowed on the ANB School of Accounting, Economics and Finance “is a point of pride that we will cherish,” said Dr. Amjad Abdullat, dean of the Engler College of Business.
“With this distinction comes the responsibility to exercise judicious stewardship, a responsibility that my colleagues and I take very seriously,” Abdullat said. “This gift demonstrates strong confidence in our students’ excellence, the innovative spirit of our faculty and staff, and the vision and determination to make the program among our state and nation’s best.”
The ANB School of Accounting, Economics and Finance is the first school established at WT since both the School of Music and the School of Engineering & Computer Sciences were formed in 2012. In January 2020, Engineering was elevated to the College of Engineering.
The Paul & Virginia Engler College of Business, which boasts the largest number of enrolled students among all six of WT’s colleges, is routinely named as one of the best business schools in the nation. Its online MBA program recently was ranked No. 20 by the prestigious Princeton Review. Several of its offerings were awarded Best Program status for an 11th consecutive year by U.S. News & World Report in its most recent rankings of online programs.
WT’s master of science in finance and economics has been in the Top 10 for eight consecutive years for TFE Times, an online news platform that’s considered one of the world’s foremost academia media companies. WT’s business faculty members have terminal degrees from such prestigious universities as Harvard, University of California–Berkeley, University of Chicago, University of Minnesota, University of Iowa and University of Texas.
ANB’s support of WT runs deep, and this gift increases the bank’s total giving to WT to almost $5 million. The Ware family, which founded the bank in 1892, and their Ware Foundation was one of the first to support the renovation of the building that is now the home of the Amarillo Center. Their $1 million gift was recognized with the naming of the center’s Amarillo National Bank Grand Lobby, and ANB received the Pinnacle Award from the WTAMU Foundation in 2017.
Richard Ware, the ANB chairman, taught finance courses at WT in the 1970s. His son, Benjamin Ware III, attended WT. William and Pat Ware took courses in accounting, finance and economics.  William Ware’s wife, Shaylee, earned her degree in in Health Science and Nutrition in 2020 at WT.
About West Texas A&M University
WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. WT, a Hispanic Serving Institution since 2016, boasts an enrollment of about 10,000 and offers 59 undergraduate degree programs and more than 40 graduate degrees, including two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 14 men’s and women’s athletics programs.