Baylor University announced in early June a $35 million gift from Paul L. Foster, BBA '79 -- the largest gift from a living alumnus in Baylor history. Foster's gift will support both the university's $100 million campaign to construct a new home for the Hankamer School of Business and the upcoming Baylor Stadium.
Foster said that he hopes his gift will inspire others to support the business school project, which will be named the Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation in recognition of his generosity. If private philanthropy goals can be reached in the coming months, construction on the new facility could begin as early as December.
"My family and I believe strongly that we have an obligation to give back to the people, the organizations and the communities that have given so much to us," said Foster, who serves as chairman of the board and executive chairman of Western Refining Inc. "Like so many other graduates, the education I received at Baylor prepared me for personal and professional success. 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."
"Paul Foster has been steadfast in support of his alma mater, responding to Baylor's call during seminal moments in the life of our university," said Baylor President Ken Starr. "In 2006, his vision and leadership gift helped to establish the Paul L. Foster Success Center, which ensures that Baylor students flourish in their transition from the first year through graduation. Today, Paul Foster has stepped forward with a visionary and truly transformational gift that supports two significant initiatives for Baylor: The Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation, which will provide a new home for the transformational learning and impactful scholarship at our outstanding Hankamer School of Business, and the new Baylor Stadium, which will enrich the student life experience, as the Foster Success Center has, invigorate our local economy, and secure Baylor's strong position on the national stage. Paul and Alejandra's gift is a profound blessing to all of us who love Baylor and wish to see it fulfill its purposes on the earth."
The architectural design for the new 275,000-square-foot Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation features a highly corporate and sustainable business environment that will expand the school's size and reach by nearly 40 percent. The design includes a centerpiece atrium that will showcase some of the school's signature classrooms, such as the Southwest Securities Financial Markets Center, as well as a 350-seat auditorium for guest lectures and special events and a variety of classroom spaces that will incorporate the latest classroom technology for collaborative learning, innovation and problem solving.
Foster's gift will also support Baylor Stadium at the Founders level. Slated to open in fall 2014, the $250 million on-campus stadium is under construction on a 93-acre site at the intersection of Interstate 35, one of the nation's busiest highways, and the Brazos River, the longest waterway in the state of Texas.
"We are extremely grateful to Paul Foster for making this generous gift to support Baylor's new on-campus football stadium," said Director of Athletics Ian McCaw. "It will be a tremendous honor to have Paul listed among the Stadium Founders who have made this vitally important project possible."
Foster earned his BBA in accounting from Baylor in 1979, then embarked on a career with several refining companies before forming Western Refining Co. as president and CEO in 1997. Today, Western Refining is an independent oil refining and marketing company headquartered in El Paso that also operates 200 convenience stores in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas.
In 2006, Foster gave Baylor a $3 million lead gift for the Paul L. Foster Success Center, which provides a centralized location for five academic departments devoted to developing Baylor students to their full potential: academic advisement, academic support programs, access and learning accommodation, career counseling and career services.
An active civic leader in El Paso, Foster was named Entrepreneur of the Year in 2004 by the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce, inducted into the El Paso Business Hall of Fame in 2005, and named El Paso's Best Philanthropist in 2006. In 2007, he donated $50 million to help create the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in El Paso. That same year, he was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to The University of Texas System Board of Regents, where he currently serves as vice chairman. Last fall, he received the Baylor Legacy Award from his alma mater.