The Texas A&M Foundation Board of Trustees on April 9 honored San Antonio businessman Lowry Mays ’57, famous for reshaping the cultural and economic impact of radio. In addition to his corporate work, Mays is well-known for his generosity to Mays Business School and the George Bush Presidential Library. For his philanthropy to A&M, the Foundation trustees selected Mays to receive its Sterling C. Evans Medal.
The Evans Medal recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to Texas A&M philanthropic efforts. Evans Medal recipients exhibit a distinguished record of philanthropy benefiting Texas A&M, through giving and volunteer leadership. Other qualifications include a willingness and ability to motivate others to support Texas A&M, a lifelong devotion to Texas A&M and higher education, and a personal history of integrity and excellence in all aspects of life. Previous recipients include George Mitchell, H.R. “Bum” Bright, Jon Hagler and Sterling C. Evans himself.
During the mid-1990s, Mays made a huge splash with his first major gift to Texas A&M: $15 million for the College of Business, later renamed to Mays Business School. In 2009, Mays, founder of Clear Channel Communications, and his wife, Peggy, gave an additional $7.5 million for nine endowed faculty chairs at Mays. Part of that gift will be matched with contributions from other donors, bringing its total impact to $12 million.
“We are fortunate to have generous benefactors in the Mays family,” Jerry Strawser, dean of Mays Business School, said in response to the faculty gift. “Their past support has enabled our school to achieve status as one of the top public business schools in the world.” Mays graduates are heavily recruited, with many ending up in leadership roles at Fortune 500 companies.
Mays, former chairman of the Texas A&M Board of Regents, has contributed nearly $2 million to the Bush Presidential Library on the A&M campus. His additional gifts helped to purchase a bronze statue of Earl Rudder ’32, former president of Texas A&M; assisted Corps of Cadets programs; and supported other student activities.
After receiving his petroleum engineering degree from Texas A&M in 1957, Mays served his three-year Air Force commitment, during which he met and married Peggy. He then earned a master’s degree from Harvard Business School.
Lowry and Peggy Mays settled in San Antonio to raise their four children. Working there as an investment banker, he became owner of an FM radio station in 1972 when a borrower defaulted on a loan that Mays had co-signed.
Mays saw an opportunity in FM radio, partnered with Red McCombs to purchase more stations and soon left banking to focus on the business that would become Clear Channel Communications. The company quickly increased its radio station ownership to more than 1,200 stations. Clear Channel also added television stations, outdoor advertising and live entertainment to its portfolio, which included properties in Europe, Australia and Mexico.
The Texas A&M Foundation’s Evans Medal – presented on campus to the A&M Legacy Society gala crowd of 450 donors, students, faculty and staff – is one of many honors Mays has accrued through the years. Mays was inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame in 1999 and into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2004. He was honored with a Distinguished Alumni Award in 1997.
The Texas A&M Foundation is a private nonprofit corporation established in 1953 to encourage, receive and manage gifts in support of educational excellence at Texas A&M University. The Foundation currently leads Operation Spirit and Mind, a $300 million initiative raising funds for Aggie scholarships fellowships.