Austin, TX – Mr. F. O’Neil Griffin of Kerrville, TX, recently received the prestigious Mirabeau B. Lamar Medal, which is awarded to individuals, foundations and organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to higher education in Texas.
A semi-retired banker, Griffin was co-nominated by Dr. Charlie McCormick, president of Schreiner University, and Dr. Mike Flores, chancellor of Alamo Community College District. In his speech, McCormick expressed appreciation to Neil Griffin for “his excellent impact on education generally but his profound impact on Schreiner in particular. At every moment when a need has become evident, Neil has stepped forward with support. At a school like Schreiner that is an Hispanic-serving institution with a large number of Pell-eligible and first-generation students, the impact of this support on individual students, their entire families, and the state of Texas is truly profound. While Neil always has been attentive to the concerns and needs of the present, he has been insistent that Schreiner always looks forward to the generations of students that we do not yet know but that will one day be educated here.”
Griffin has generously supported the higher education community since 1954, with his first scholarship gift to The University of Texas at Austin three years after earning his MBA. Over the years, Griffin has provided generous donations to Arkansas State University, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, The University of Texas Medical School in Galveston and Schreiner University in Kerrville, where he is a trustee emeritus.
His contributions to Alamo Colleges began after reading about the low percentage of students from Kerrville who went to college. Griffin decided to see if something could be done to change that, resulting in the transformation of an abandoned junior high building into Alamo Colleges District Greater Kerrville Center, which was established in 2008 as a branch of the San Antonio-based district. His 2017 donation of $2.445 million provided scholarships and other programs for the Center and is noted as the largest gift in Alamo Colleges history. “The Alamo Colleges District is grateful for Mr. Griffin’s vision and philanthropic support that has led to a positive shift in the college going culture of his community,”said Flores.“His generous support has assisted 130 Kerrville students in pursuing higher education and increasing their economic and social mobility.”
“Nothing is more important than education, which is my passion,” Griffin stated in accepting the award. “For a long time, I declined publicity and recognition. But then I had one friend who insisted that I should let my name be used. He said, ‘You don’t know what kind of an influence that might have on your peers.’ So, if my gifts help others to give, that’s fine with me. I was taught that those of us who are blessed have an obligation to give back, and I’d like to be remembered as doing that.”
The Lamar Medal, which was created in 1977, is presented each year by Texas’ presidents and chancellors who are members of the Council of Public University Presidents and Chancellors, the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas and the Texas Association of Community Colleges.
Photo credit: Mark Robertson-Baker