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Dr. Leland Blank and Dr. Sallie V. Sheppard

COLLEGE STATION --

One of the first women formally admitted to Texas A&M University 50 years ago, Dr. Sallie V. Sheppard, who subsequently taught at the university for 20 years and became the first woman to hold a top-tier administrative position there, has joined with her husband, Dr. Leland Blank, also a prominent former member of the Texas A&M faculty and staff, to establish one of the institution's prestigious President's Endowed Scholarship (PES), funded by a $100,000 gift.

"Funding a President's Endowed Scholarship was a perfect opportunity to further our lifelong calling to higher education," said Sheppard, who enrolled at Texas A&M in the early 1960s, when women were first allowed to attend on a regular basis, and then earned bachelor's and master's degrees in mathematics in 1965 and 1967, respectively. "This gift will give a continuing stream of academically deserving students a chance to experience Aggie higher education."

After earning her doctorate in computer science at the University of Pittsburgh in 1977, Sheppard (a 2009 inductee into the College of Science's Academy of Distinguished Former Students) returned to Texas A&M and began a 20-year teaching career in the Department of Computer Science. In addition to her faculty position, she rose through the administrative ranks to become associate provost for undergraduate studies and served as interim provost in 1995. Additionally, Sheppard, who was awarded faculty emeritus status upon retirement, helped create the Women's Faculty Network at Texas A&M, an organization dedicated to enhancing professional development and career-oriented opportunities for its members.

"During my years as an administrator at Texas A&M, I witnessed the importance of the President's Endowed Scholarship program in attracting well-qualified students to Aggieland," said Sheppard. "These students often become leaders in academics as well as in student life."

Blank, a professor emeritus of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, also experienced the value of the PES program at Texas A&M during the past 20 years.
"Scholarships like these help fuel the passion for learning that many technically oriented students exhibit," he said. "As an engineer and long-term faculty member and administrator at Texas A&M, I have seen the wonderful results that a PES brings to our students. They contribute to Aggieland as students and they make real contributions in their chosen professional fields."

In addition to his teaching and research career at Texas A&M, Blank served the university in a variety of staff capacities, including providing leadership for a university-wide quality enhancement program.

The couple call Austin home but are taking advantage of their retirements in a variety of manners, all the while continuing to take an active interest in Texas A&M -- particularly its students.

Presidential Endowed Scholarships, which are funded through the Texas A&M Foundation, may be established by an individual or a group. Recipients of a PES receive a four-year award, plus a one-time grant for a study abroad experience. Students are selected based upon academic merit and demonstration of leadership.

"My undergraduate degree in mathematics was an excellent basis for everything I did in my career," said Sheppard. "It is my hope that our scholarship in the College of Science will get other Aggies started on an equally strong basis."

The Texas A&M Foundation is a private nonprofit organization that solicits and manages investments in academics and leadership programs to enhance Texas A&M's capability to be among the best universities. To learn more about scholarships, fellowships and other academic- and student program-focused giving to benefit Texas A&M University, contact the Foundation at amfoundation@tamu.edu, (800) 392-3310 or (979) 845-8161.

-aTm-

Contact: Monika Blackwell, (979) 845-8161 or m.blackwell@tamu.edu

Eubank Anna

College of Science
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