By Bob Allen
An El Paso businessman has donated $35 million to Baylor University, reportedly the largest gift by a living alumnus in the history of the Baptist-affiliated school in Waco, Texas.
The gift by Texas oilman Paul Foster will go toward construction of a new $100 million facility to house Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business. The new 275,000-square-foot facility will be named the Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation. Part of the fund will also support Baylor Stadium, a new $250 million riverfront football stadium approved by trustees in 2012.
Foster is the executive chairman of Western Refining Co., an independent refining and marketing company based in El Paso. A 1979 Baylor graduate, Foster previously gave a $3 million lead gift in 2006 for the Paul L. Foster Success Center.
“Like so many other graduates, the education I received at Baylor prepared me for personal and professional success,” Foster said. “That’s why Alejandra and I couldn’t be more pleased to come alongside the university to support the new building for Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business, which will provide a transformational and innovative education for Baylor business students, and Baylor Stadium, which will benefit the university and the Waco community for generations to come.”
Baylor President Ken Starr characterized Foster’s donation as “a visionary and truly transformational gift that supports two significant initiatives for Baylor.”
According to the El Paso Times, Foster has also given generously to other Texas universities. In 2007 he gave $45 million in the form of 1 million shares of Western Refining stock to Texas Tech University’s El Paso medical school.
In 2006 he and Western CEO Jeff Stevens gave the University of Texas at El Paso $6 million to build a new basketball practice gym, now named the Foster-Stevens Basketball Training Center.
Foster’s Baylor gift eclipsed the previous record set in 2012 by Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane, a 1958 Baylor graduate and former regent chairman, earmarked for the new football stadium due for completion in 2014.
Baylor officials said McLane’s family didn’t want the amount to be disclosed, but it was larger than the $20 million donated by three Baylor law grads in 1998 to build a new law school.