ALPINE The Borderlands Research Institute (BRI) at Sul Ross State University recently announced the largest philanthropic gift in its 10-year history. The $1.5 million gift will fund a new Nau Endowed Chair in Habitat Research and Management at BRI.
The Nau Foundation in Houston has pledged $100,000 to an endowment and $50,000 for operations annually over the next ten years. The gift is also the largest ever received by Sul Ross State University.
“Endowments are among the most impactful philanthropic gifts that can be made because they provide funding certainty for key faculty positions,” Sul Ross State University President Bill Kible said in a prepared statement. “We are extremely grateful to John L. Nau III and the Nau Foundation for this incredibly generous gift. It is a strong show of support for the outstanding reputation of BRI and will help expand the expertise of our faculty by allowing us to hire a national expert focused on habitat research and management for the region.”
Nau is the chief executive officer of Silver Eagle Distributors in Houston, the largest distributor of Anheuser-Busch products in the United States. The Nau family owns a ranch in West Texas and has been actively involved with the BRI for more than 10 years.
The Nau family has supported BRI research projects, including studies on desert bighorn sheep, quail, and mule deer in West Texas. The Nau family has not only helped fund these studies, but their family and ranch personnel actively engage and interact with BRI students. Family member Parker Johnson currently serves on the BRI Advisory Board.
“We’re proud to make this gift to support BRI’s habitat program,” Johnson said. “BRI has been a great asset to our ranch operations, to the landowners of the region and throughout Texas. Learning more about the habitat that supports thriving wildlife populations will ensure future generations will enjoy the natural resources we have today. Our family believes that supporting the habitat program will have the most impact on future conservation efforts.”
“The Nau family are champions of conservation and they have been leaders in the stewardship of natural resources on the ranches they own and operate in West Texas and across the state,” said Louis Harveson, who is the Dan Allen Hughes, Jr., BRI Endowed Director and professor of Wildlife Management at Sul Ross. “What I respect the most about the Nau family is that they truly care about natural resource conservation and they seek information about how to best steward the resources they manage on their properties. They let science guide their management decisions and that philosophy has been the cornerstone of our relationship with them. We are immensely grateful for this gift.”
The position will have a joint research and teaching appointment and will be jointly funded by Sul Ross and the endowment. Harveson said he hopes to hire the new position in 2018.
For more than a decade, the Borderlands Research Institute has encouraged effective land stewardship of the Chihuahuan Desert. Housed at Sul Ross State University, the Borderlands Research Institute builds on a long-lasting partnership with private landowners, the university’s Range and Wildlife Program, and cooperating state, federal, and non-governmental organizations. Through research, education, and outreach, the Borderlands Research Institute is helping to conserve the last frontier of Texas and the Southwest.