Collin College has announced that Roger and Jody Lawler of Frisco have made a $2 million gift for scholarships through the Collin College Foundation. The donation is the largest from an individual family in the history of Collin College, and in recognition of the gift, the college named a building after them.
Cary Israel, the college’s district president, revealed the donation during the college’s annual fundraiser, the Stetson & Stiletto Standoff, Saturday night. The surprised audience erupted with applause and greeted the Lawlers with a standing ovation.
The Lawlers made the gift though a naming opportunities initiative at the college that immortalizes the legacy of major patrons by naming existing campus facilities in their honor with 100 percent of the donations earmarked for scholarships.
During the announcement ceremony, Board of Trustees chair Mac Hendricks read a resolution officially renaming Building D at the Preston Ridge Campus in Frisco as “Lawler Hall” in their honor.
“This gift demonstrates a commitment to the future of Collin County, its residents and its students by establishing an endowment that will provide scholarships in perpetuity for Collin College students,” Hendricks said. “Thanks to Roger and Jody’s generosity, we are able to provide the gift of education to students who otherwise would not be able to afford a collegiate education.”
According to President Israel, former trustee and community leader Sam Roach connected the Lawlers with the college. “The Lawlers have deep roots in North Texas, and we quickly discovered the depth of their commitment to education,” Israel said.
The $2 million gift will fund scholarships for Collin College students majoring in science, biotechnology and studies relating to the environment or agriculture. The scholarships will cover tuition, fees and books as well as laptop computers or other technology necessary for their coursework.
“Even with the lowest tuition in the state, more than 28,000 students applied for financial aid and scholarships last year, so Roger and Jody’s gift will go to work right away,” said Israel. “Their generous gift is a major milestone in the philanthropic history of Collin College and a lasting gift for generations to come. Our gratitude is immeasurable.”
Mrs. Lawler is an environmental advocate. Mr. Lawler is a native Texan, veteran and real estate developer. He served in the United States Navy on a submarine based at Pearl Harbor. He later served in the Marine Corps in the famous VMF 214 “Black Sheep” Squadron in Korea. Following his military service, he worked for United Airlines and the agency that became NASA before returning to Dallas to begin a career as a builder and apartment building owner. He bought a farm in Frisco in the 1960s and built a very successful business in real estate and development. He attended North Texas Agricultural College, now known as The University of Texas at Arlington, and Southern Methodist University.
Collin College serves nearly 53,000 credit and continuing education students annually and offers more than 100 degrees and certificates. The only public college in the county, Collin College is a partner to business, government and industry, providing customized training and workforce development.
Photo at top, Lawler Hall rendering provided by PBK.
Story by Marisela Cadena-Smith