MCC campus gets new Watson Arbor; ceremony Jan. 11

By Lisa Elliott

The McLennan Community College Foundation will be joined Tuesday, Jan. 11, by MCC and community leaders to mark the opening of a new outdoor gathering space on the MCC campus. The Greta and Murray Watson, Jr., Arbor will open with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 1:30 p.m. beside the Enrollment Services Center. The ceremony will conclude with hot chocolate and cookies, and the public is invited.

Greta and Murray Watson, Jr., Arbor

The Watson Arbor project was conceived and funded through the generosity of Brazos Higher Education Service Corp., the student loan financing company founded by Murray Watson, Jr., in 1975. Among other gifts, the company and the Watson family have funded more than $579,000 in endowed scholarships through the MCC Foundation to support the McLennan Presidential Scholars program.

To honor its founder’s lifelong support of higher education, Brazos and the Watson family wished to create an outdoor space where students, faculty and staff at the college could gather. The company’s generosity means no college funds were expended for this beautiful campus enhancement.

Watson was a lawyer, rancher, politician, and philanthropist who had a passion for serving others. He was elected to the Texas State House of Representatives at age 24, shortly after graduating from Baylor Law School. He represented Central Texas in the Texas House until 1963, when he was elected to the Texas Senate, where he served until 1973. 

As senator, Watson carried many important pieces of legislation, but he was especially proud of helping create what is now Texas State Technical College (TSTC), and he was a strong advocate for establishing MCC in 1965. Watson passed away in 2018, and his wife, Greta, continues to lead the family’s Mart-based operations, including a cattle company and Watson Feed Store. Their daughter, Missy Larson, also serves on the MCC Foundation Board of Directors. 

“We are so grateful to our friends at Brazos Higher Education Service Corporation and the Watson family for their generous donations to our campus and student scholarships. This space will provide an area where our students are able to relax, study and find tranquility in their busy schedules,” said MCC President Johnette McKown. “This is the perfect tribute to the Watson family that cares so deeply about students and their success.”

The MCC Foundation raises public and private support to fund scholarships, faculty and staff professional development and capital projects at the college. To learn more, visit www.mclennan.edu/foundation or contact Executive Director Kim Patterson at 254-299-8606 or [email protected].

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email the ALW team — [email protected].

MCC food pantry receives $5,000 gift from Atmos Energy

Atmos Energy recently donated $5,000 to the McLennan Community College Foundation to help support Paulanne’s Pantry, the MCC food pantry. 

MCC Completion Center Associate Director Natalie James, Atmos Energy’s Tammie Bowman, and MCC Foundation Executive Director Kim Patterson celebrate a $5,000 donation from Atmos Energy to MCC’s Paulanne’s Pantry.

“This gift will do so much to help us serve students who are working hard to support themselves or a family while they attend college,” said Kim Patterson, the foundation’s executive director. “Hunger is a real issue on college campuses, especially at community colleges where many students live perilously close to the edge of financial security. We are incredibly grateful to Atmos Energy for their commitment to support our students.”

The gift will enable MCC’s pantry to provide meals for up to 200 students because of the pantry’s supply partnership with the Central Texas Food Bank, according Natalie James, Completion Center associate director. Students who access the pantry are typically limited to one visit per month and are provided with coaching to help with accessing other community resources. Each pantry visit provides enough food for three meals for a family. 

Paulanne’s Pantry was named in honor of Waco resident Paulanne Ream Hoover, who left a gift to the MCC Foundation in her estate plan. This gift funded an endowment to cover basic costs of pantry operations, as well as establish the first scholarship fund for part-time students at the college. 

The MCC Foundation raises public and private support to fund scholarships, faculty and staff professional development, emergency aid and capital needs at the college. To learn more, visit www.mclennan.edu/foundation or contact Patterson at 254-299-8606 or [email protected].

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster.

MCC Foundation director named outstanding fundraiser

MCC Foundation Executive Director Kim Patterson has been named “Outstanding Fundraising Professional” by the Central Texas Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Patterson has served in a variety of roles at McLennan Community College for 26 years and began her role as executive director of foundation in January 2017. She served as associate director of the Foundation 2006-2013.

Since becoming executive director, the foundation has raised an average of $1.3 million in private donor support each year, in addition to numerous grant awards. Patterson has successfully navigated complex capital and real property gifts, estate gifts, major gifts for scholarships and capital projects, and she has established major endowments to support student success.

MCC Foundation assets under management have increased from $16.2 million in 2016 to more than $32 million as of August this year.

Aside from fundraising success, the foundation has implemented creative donor stewardship efforts, including refining the Scholar, Donor, and Alumni Appreciation event to provide intentional connection between major donors and their scholarship recipients. Even during the pandemic, revenue from the Foundation’s Hearts in the Arts Gala and Golf Classic reached new fundraising records.

In 2018, the MCC Foundation was named a “Charity Champion” in recognition of its efforts to support the Men of Color Success Initiative at MCC. Since then, the foundation earned a Cooper Foundation grant to support the program and partially fund its first paid coordinator, and has created an endowed scholarship for the program’s outstanding participant.

Patterson works with a 27-member board of directors comprising community leaders, and she leads a four-person team in the Foundation and Resource Development areas. She has volunteered for or served in leadership positions in numerous community and professional organizations, including Rotary Club of Waco, Central Texas AFP, Central Texas PRSA, Baylor University Journalism, Public Relations and New Media, Talitha Koum, KWBU Public Radio, McLennan 100 Club and National Charity League.

The Outstanding Fundraising Professional award is presented to an individual fundraising professional who practices his or her profession in an exemplary manner. Nominees must hold a least eight years of professional experience in fundraising, and show evidence of quality of leadership that is effective, creative, stimulating and collaborative. He or she must actively participate in AFP and promote the Code of Ethical Principles, show a commitment to continuing professional development, and exhibit a commitment to philanthropy through voluntary service and financial support of nonprofit organizations.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster.