CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi President Flavius Killebrew announced today (Jan. 30) the largest single private gift given toward scholarships in the history of the University.
The gift of more than $5 million was arranged by local businessman Lawrence Atkins through his estate. Atkins owned and operated Atkins Advertising and Associates for more than 35 years until his death in July 2006.
“Mr. Atkins had expressed a strong desire to support students at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and put such provisions in his will,” said President Killebrew. “His incredibly generous legacy will assure that many deserving students will have an opportunity to earn their college degrees.”
Atkins’ $5,053,339 gift creates a new level in the University’s prestigious Presidential Scholarship program that supports the best and brightest students. The new level adds 15 new students a year to the program, who each will get $3,000 a year for four years. After four years, there will be 60 students being served at this level.
In addition, funds from the Atkins’ gift will create the Islander Scholars program, supporting eight new students a year who will each get $2,500 a year for four years. This brings to 32 the number of students supported by this program after the first four years.
“Mr. Atkins will be well remembered by these students who will greatly benefit from his vision,” Killebrew added.
Atkins was a native of Alice who attended North Texas Agricultural College in Arlington before joining the military and serving in the Pacific during World War II. After leaving the military in 1946, Atkins worked for Humble Pipeline in various capacities until 1968 when he established his own advertising specialty business.
According his friend and attorney Kenneth Botary, Atkins initial operation was a one-man business, and he traveled throughout South Texas selling calendars and gadgets displaying business logos. After his new business became successful, Atkins purchased a ranch in Orange Grove where he raised Beefmaster cattle. He also had several oil interests.
“Larry learned the value of saving and working hard,” recalled Botary. “He admired those people who started from scratch, worked hard and invested their savings wisely. He wanted to show his appreciation to the people of South Texas by helping college students. His hope was that these students would receive their education at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, work hard, invest wisely and remain in South Texas.”
During his career, Atkins served on the board of the Southwest Advertising Association and was a member of the Advertising Specialty Institute and the Promotional Products Association International. He was also active in the Texas Cattleman’s Association and Beefmaster Breeders United.