Proud Aggie parent Hallie Vanderhider says she will forever be grateful to Mays Business School and the impact it has made on the life of her sons, Michael ’09 and Matthew ’09. That gratitude led her to make a gift of $500,000 to the school, which will be matched by funds from school namesake Lowry Mays ’57 to create an endowed faculty chair in business.

Michael graduated in 2010 from the professional program in accounting and currently works for Deloitte and Touche (incidentally, the same firm where his mother began her career). He recently told Vanderhider that he felt “as prepared as anybody could be” for a career in accounting. He credits his success to the quality of the education he received at Mays.

Proud Aggie parent Hallie Vanderhider, seen here speaking to students last year, has endowed a faculty chair in business at Mays Business School.
Proud Aggie parent Hallie Vanderhider, seen here speaking to students last year, has endowed a faculty chair in business at Mays Business School.

Vanderhider, a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, is president and COO of Black Stone Minerals, an oil and gas company headquartered in Houston. She says that while UT is a fine school, she believes that the experience Michael had at A&M is unparalleled at other universities. Attending A&M has made a major impact on her son’s life, says Vanderhider, who notes that the caring faculty, mentors, and friends he found here have enabled his success.

“It changed his life in a way that I didn’t anticipate. It is wonderful to see your child succeed,” she says.

With that pride there is also a note of sadness. Michael’s twin, Matthew, studied business at Blinn College with the goal of getting in to A&M after improving his grades.

“From day one he said, “I’m going to work really hard and I’m going to get into A&M.’ And he did,” says Vanderhider. By sophomore year, his 3.7 GPA was enough to make his dream a reality. Unfortunately, he passed away a few days after receiving his acceptance letter. “He never was able to attend, but that acceptance was, I think, the happiest moment of his life.”

While Michael coped with the loss of his brother, people at Mays were there to help him get through the semester. “Everyone in the business school was so good to him,” says Vanderhider. “It was like a family.”

“I will forever be grateful,” she says. “This is just one small way that I can give back.” Vanderhider intends for this gift to be only the beginning of her involvement at Mays, as she has agreed to serve on the dean’s development council and will influence the programs and people of Mays through that channel.

She wanted her financial gift to support faculty for the trickle down affect that it has. “The ability to attract and retain top faculty is what makes or breaks a school…It allows you to attract top students, because they know they are going to get a tremendous education and exposure to some of the brightest people in the country or around the world. In order for the school to maintain its standards and continue to grow, they need the opportunity to attract top talent.”

Mays Dean Jerry Strawser agrees. “Hallie Vanderhider’s most generous gift will have a significant and lasting impact on Mays,” he said. “Our faculty play such an important role in developing our students for their careers and lives and the ability to hire and retain the very best faculty is truly significant.”

Vanderhider has been with Black Stone since 2003. Previously she has held leadership roles with other energy companies as well as private equity.