Track alumnus Dr. Maury Dennis and wife commit to scholarship endowment

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Northwestern State and its track and field program were part of the foundation which enabled Dr. Maury Dennis to become a highly-regarded professor and research scientist at Texas A&M.

So shortly after retiring, the 1964 Northwestern State graduate and his wife decided to make a deferred gift to the NSU Athletics Department, in the form of an endowed scholarship in their estate to benefit NSU track and field.

Dennis earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s in physical education from Northwestern two years later. He completed doctoral studies in 1971 at Florida State, where he was an assistant professor for five years.

In 1977, he joined the health and kinesiology faculty at Texas A&M, serving as coordinator of the safety education program for 29 years until 2006, and as director for the Center for Alcohol and Drug Education Studies there for 17 years until 2014. Dennis was a senior research scientist at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute from 2007-15.

“I was the first in my family to go to college,” he said. “My high school coach went to NSC (then-Northwestern State College) and influenced me to go there. NSC met all my academic needs and allowed me to run track, be in Blue Key, and other organizations. NSC had a great early influence on my life and so I am grateful that my wife (also an NSC graduate) and I can provide an endowment.”

Their commitment to create the “Maury and Pat Dennis Track and Field Scholarship” is the latest in an ongoing series of gifts made as part of the Perpetually Purple campaign by NSU Athletics. A developing trend is having endowments set up in various ways, including direct contributions, stock transfers, real estate transactions and as the Dennis’ have done, as a deferred gift through an estate.

“Mary and Pat are appreciated for their forward thinking that has resulted in the establishment of an endowed scholarship in their estate to benefit the NSU track and field program,” said Burke. “It is exciting to see the continued momentum as NSU’s athletic scholarship endowment continues to grow. Furthermore, contributions to the endowment are being made in various manners, which sends a message that everybody has the capacity to make a difference for our student-athletes on a long term basis.”

Burke and associate athletic director Dr. Hailey Taitano are aiming to grow the DUF endowment, through outright donations or deferred gifts, over the next five years from the nearly $2 million current level to over $5 million. It has increased by almost $500,000 in the last three years. The program is separate from the efforts to supplement the annual budget for the athletics program with donations, corporate partnerships and special fund-raising events.

A minimum commitment of $10,000 is required to create an endowment fund, but that fund can start from any initial outright gift. Endowments can be established with an outright gift such as cash, a stock transfer or property sale, a life insurance policy, or can be included as a provision in a will or bequest. Arrangements can be made to fund an endowment over an extended period of time.

To inquire about the Perpetually Purple program, contact Greg Burke (burkeg@nsula.edu, 318-357-5251), or Taitano (blounth@nsula.edu, 318-357-4278). Information is also available on the NSUDemons.com website.