Writer: D'Lyn Ford
LAS CRUCES - New Mexico State University received a $2.7 million donation from the Scarborough-Linebery Foundation on Saturday, representing the largest single cash donation ever received by the university.
The gift will benefit research and education in range science and agricultural policy in the College of Agriculture and Home Economics. It will fund two new endowed chairs, providing $1.5 million for the Tom Linebery Distinguished Chair and Policy Center, and $1.2 million for the Evelyn Linebery Chair in Agriculture.
Foundation president Doug Grimes made the award to President Jay Gogue and Dean Jerry Schickedanz as part of Agriculture Appreciation Day activities at the NMSU/Louisiana-Monroe football game at Aggie Memorial Stadium.
"It's gifts like this that help make the college a leader in areas such as range science and agricultural economics," Schickedanz said. "This donation will make a huge difference in the college's education, research and Cooperative Extension Service activities."
Endowment proceeds will help raise public awareness about the importance of the range livestock industry in New Mexico, said John Fowler, coordinator of NMSU's Range Improvement Task Force and the first distinguished chair appointee.
Funds will be used to develop position papers, create a comprehensive library of range-related materials, analyze major federal actions, enhance students' education and training, and evaluate the economic impact of policies on the range livestock industry, Fowler said.
"The chair is designed to promote long-term, forward-looking research," he said. "Until now, we've been looking at the trees, so this is an opportunity to step back and look at the forest."
The Evelyn Linebery endowment will offer extra support, providing funds for both human and material resources. Money will be used to hire undergraduate students for research internships, Fowler said.
"This will give students an opportunity to do research and write senior papers on controversial, timely topics while rubbing shoulders with industry people," he said. "They can get hands-on experience and make important contributions while they're still in school."
Tom and Evelyn Linebery raised cattle and horses for nearly six decades on the Frying Pan Ranch, a 135,000-acre property that straddles Winkler, Loving and Andrews counties in West Texas and Lea County in southeastern New Mexico.
The couple started out with 45,000 acres when they inherited the ranch in 1939 from Evelyn's father, Bill Scarborough. They expanded the ranch with surrounding properties that came on the market.
"I always thought of the Frying Pan as like the ranch in the movie 'Giant,'" Grimes wrote in a 2001 book about the couple. Grimes was a close friend of Tom Linebery for decades before becoming president of the Scarborough-Linebery Foundation."It (the ranch) was bigger than life, and of course Tom continued to add acreage through hard work and smart management. And Evelyn played a vital part in all of that."
Evelyn Scarborough was born in 1905 and Tom Linebery in 1910. They married in 1933 and lived on the Frying Pan Ranch until 1996, when they sold the property. Both Tom and Evelyn Linebery died in 2001.
Tom Linebery had a reputation as a hard-nosed rancher, but those who knew him spoke fondly of his soft side. "Tom had a gruff outward persona, but he had a very big heart, especially when it came to helping youngsters get an education," Schickedanz said. "He never advertised it or asked for public recognition. Kids just knew if they couldn't pay for school they could go see Tom Linebery."
After Linebery's death, Grimes found hundreds of hundreds of folders containing information about students Linebery had helped. "The stack of folders was about as tall as I was," Grimes said. "He paid for the educations of 200 to 300 young people from the region."
The Scarborough-Linebery Foundation, which the couple established to help keep Western heritage alive, has provided $10,000 annually in scholarships for 4-H youth in New Mexico over the past six years.
"The grants have benefited about 30 youngsters, and the program is now being converted into a permanent scholarship fund for 4-H," said Dennis Holmberg, president of the New Mexico 4-H Youth Development Foundation.
The couple were strong advocates for property rights in rural areas, and their foundation has aggressively supported litigation to protect landowners. In fact, Tom Linebery took an active personal role in helping his neighbors, Schickedanz said.
"He wrote a booklet about mineral rights to educate landowners against unscrupulous oil companies that tried to get them to sign over their rights," Schickedanz said. "He helped a lot of widows that way, because companies would often try to take advantage of them after their husbands died."
The Lineberys firmly believed in educating residents of rural communities, which is why the foundation is making such a generous gift to the university, Schickedanz said.
"They were champions of ranchers and landowners who didn't know how to fight city hall or the big oil companies," Schickedanz said. "These new endowments will help us keep that spirit alive."
© 2013 New Mexico State University Board of Regents
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