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A beautiful legacy: Crawleys give to enhance education of Liberal Arts students

Mary and James Crawley '47 recently created an endowment to fund scholarships for students studying theatre or music and for Liberal Arts students studying abroad.

By Marisa Rios ‘17

“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul. ”

This quote by German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is displayed above the desk of Jim Crawley ‘47 and embodies his love and support for the arts.

So when Crawley and his wife, Mary, decided to “give forward,” it was only fitting that they do so in support of the arts. The Crawleys believe, simply put: If you prosper, you should share. True to their belief, the couple recently established the Mary W. and James B. Crawley Performance Studies Endowment to provide both merit- and need-based scholarships to students studying theatre or music in the College of Liberal Arts.

Jim earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and has spent 70 years working in the oil industry, forming Crawley Petroleum in 1972. Although he is an oil man by trade, the fine arts permeate his life story. His first interest began when he was a student at Texas A&M and had the opportunity to attend orchestral performances on campus.

Shortly after graduating in 1947, Jim worked for a large oil company in West Texas driving to various oil rigs. During those many hours driving through the desert, he would listen to a classical music station on the radio, enjoying the sound of strings, wind instruments, and percussion woven together in harmony.

Then in 1955, Jim found a kindred spirit when he met Mary in Paris, France. Their shared passion for the fine arts has been an important facet of their 61-year marriage.

As part of the same gift, the couple also established the Mary W. and James B. Crawley Study Abroad Endowment to fund scholarships for Liberal Arts students traveling abroad for credit. The couple have watched all three of their daughters travel abroad, and they have seen the positive impact it has on students.

“You become a better citizen, and you understand the world better. We think it’s a great thing,” Jim said.

Studying abroad is crucial to crafting a well-rounded education and creating critical thinkers and civic-minded leaders, which is why it is a fundraising priority for the college in the “Lead By Example” campaign. With more than 7,000 Liberal Arts majors and only about 100 total scholarships available in the college, the impact of the Crawleys’ endowment is substantial.

This gift is not the first the Crawleys have made to Liberal Arts. In 2002, they established the Crawley Family Foundation Faculty Development Endowment in Music to support the teaching, research, service, and professional development of a faculty member in the Department of Performance Studies.

Jeff Morris, associate professor of music and director of undergraduate studies for Performance Studies, is the current holder of the endowment. Morris said the funds have helped facilitate several art projects, installations, and events that have attracted positive attention and bolstered the reputation of Performance Studies at Texas A&M. One such event is Morris’ Fresh Minds Festival, which exhibits a selection of innovative audiovisual artworks from professional artists curated by Texas A&M students.

“Our Fresh Minds Festival receives submissions from 100 to 200 artists per year from dozens of countries, bringing the eyes of leading artists worldwide onto our Performance Studies Department,” Morris said.

The Crawleys’ legacy of giving extends to the Texas A&M Libraries and art galleries, as well as the Memorial Student Center renovation. Their philanthropy will help ensure students have the opportunity to “hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day.”

For more information on how you can impact students and faculty in your preferred area in the College of Liberal Arts, please contact Larry Walker.

Check out more Donor Spotlights to see how giving can impact both you and the College of Liberal Arts.