Island University Hosts Roaring 20s Presidents Ball to Honor Top Donors

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – In celebration of the individuals and organizations whose generosity and support ensure student success, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi hosted the President’s Ball on Feb. 23 in the University Center.

To usher in the new decade, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi shifted its traditional Mardi Gras theme for the roaring 1920s, taking guests from The Big Easy to the Speakeasy. The Roaring 20s President’s Ball was a sold-out event that included more than 500 guests.

In her keynote address, University President Kelly M. Miller talked about the changes in education from the 1920s to current times and noted recent University accomplishments that would be impossible without community support.

“Everywhere you turn on this campus, you see innovation, excitement, passion for learning and success and I am thrilled to report that we see our greatest success in the area that matters most – and that’s graduating our students,” said Miller. She then went on to thank the donors for partnering with the Island University to break down barriers in education, allowing so many first-generation college students to study and become graduates, changing their lives and the lives of their families.

The night’s honorees had their names and images added to the Wall of Recognition located in the University Center, Legacy Hall.

2020 Honorees included:

The Gold Inner Circle of Excellence Society

  • LaVerne and Thomas Howell Foundation

The Silver Inner Circle of Excellence Society

  • Dr. and Mrs. Robert R. Furgason

The Bronze Inner Circle of Excellence Society

  • Buccaneer Commission, Inc.
  • Harmon A. and Grace W. Dobson Arts Foundation
  • Dr. Frances M. Ufkes

The Heritage Society

  • Renée and Ray Frisbie
  • Estate of Paddy G. Lann, Jr.

The night’s entertainment included a fabulous mix of live jazz and current classics, vintage photo opportunities, live cigar rolling and caricature drawings, a vaudeville stage complete with a modern-day Harry Houdini, and a Speakeasy with a secret password. Islander theatre students “Put on the Ritz,” bringing to life legendary icons of the 1920s such as Jay Gatsby, Al Capone and Clara Bow, while Islander dance student performed the hottest dances of the era.

Ashleigh Barrera, a senior business major, and Duncan Godell, a sophomore environmental science major minoring in military science, were selected to emcee President’s Ball.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to represent my University at this event and to speak directly to the people who make A&M-Corpus Christi an amazing place to live, learn, and grow,” said Godell, who earned a three-year ROTC scholarship during his time as an Islander.

Barrera is the receipt of multiple scholarships including the George Brown Memorial Scholarship, the Jagdev and Linda Cheema Annual Scholarship for First-Generation Business Students, the Jessie Frances Neal Foundation Annual Scholarship, and the Patty and Joseph P. Miller Endowed Scholarship.

“Because of the support I’ve received as an Islander, I have had the opportunity to further my education beyond what I ever imagined,” she said. “This campus is now my home and I am part of the Islander family.”

To see a full album of photos from President’s Ball, visit