Leadership Profile of
Paul and Mary Haas

Paul and Mary HaasLife-size bronze sculptures of playful children frolic across the balcony at the bayside home of Paul and Mary Haas. Dancing against a backdrop of the sparkling Corpus Christi skyline, the silent, yet expressive, forms greet the couple each day.

“We used to have plants out here,” Mary Haas smiled. “But I love the children. I would miss them if they were gone.”

Children have always been important to Paul and Mary Haas. Early in life, they decided that an investment in the lives of children was an investment worth making. Through the Paul and Mary Haas Foundation, which they founded over 30 years ago, the Haases have awarded over 850 student scholarships.

Seated next to one another on their ornate, brocade sofa, the Haases reflected on their 65 years of marriage. They met at a church social, two violin players with much in common. Their mutual admiration for one another is still evident today. Each prefers to talk of what the other has accomplished.

Paul spoke of the integral part Mary played in the early years of the University. She served on the committee that brought the University of Corpus Christi into existence in 1947. Later, she served as chairman of the board of the University System of South Texas, which included Corpus Christi, Kingsville and Laredo campuses.

“It became obvious that the University needed support,” Paul said. “When we went to the legislature, they hadn’t even heard of the schools in South Texas.”

“The University was the center of my being for several years,” Mary added modestly. “Alan Sugg and I decided that the University needed its own foundation, so I went to Topsy, the one person I knew who could help.”

In 1988, through initial endowments from the Haases and Mrs. John Allen (Topsy) King, followed by contributions from Mrs. Margaret R. Turnbull, the Corpus Christi State University Foundation was born.

In 1993, the Foundation became known as the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Foundation.
In addition to her Foundation work, Mary was the first chair of the President’s Council after the University became part of The Texas A&M University System.

“When you consider where we started and what we have become,” Mary said, “it is mind-boggling. I used to take my daughter to violin lessons on the campus when they had the barracks. Now we are becoming a major school in the System.”

Paul Haas’ work in education also began early. When their children were in school, he became active on the local school board. “I was president of the local board during its difficult years, when we were building a room a day, and during integration,” Paul said. He also served on the state board of education and was involved in educational projects at the national level.

Paul, too, is proud of what A&M-Corpus Christi has become, attributing much of the University’s success to its presidents. “I remember when we first had dinner with Dr. Furgason,” Paul recalled. “I wondered how he could be so enthusiastic about our little university, coming from where he had been, but his enthusiasm knew no bounds. He was so intrigued with this area.”

One of the Haases’ greatest joys is their involvement in the Paul and Mary Haas Middle School. For years, they have given gifts of books and National Geographic subscriptions to the entire 8th grade class, something students, parents and grandparents still thank them for years later.

Four years ago, they took another step to ensure that Haas middle schoolers attend institutions of higher education. They began giving ten scholarships each year to Haas 8th graders. A photo of the first group of ten Haas students to graduate from high school hangs in the special “Haas Family Hall of Fame” in their home. Nine of these students are attending college this year under Haas scholarships, and three of these are first year students at A&M-Corpus Christi.

The Haases look forward to watching the University grow even stronger in the future. “It is very satisfying to have had a part in something that has progressed this way,” Mary said.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Foundation • Annual Report 2001