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Collin Receives Second $1 Million Gift


March 24, 2005 – Collin County Community College District (Collin) confirmed today that the estate of Royden L. Lebrecht has delivered an unrestricted $1 million donation. This is the second million-dollar gift the college has received in a year, and it ties the record for the largest gift in college history.

The bequest is the largest gift from an individual philanthropist. In July 2004, Richardson-based Texas Instruments became the first corporation to give $1 million to the college.

The late Mr. Lebrecht was a resident of Tucson, Ariz., and a real estate entrepreneur. Born in Denison, Texas, Lebrecht attended the University of North Texas (UNT) and served as a pilot in World War II. However, his relationship with Collin County Community College began in a rather unusual locale—a cruise ship in the Caribbean.

In 1997, Lebrecht met local resident Sue Olivier in the breakfast buffet line of a vacation cruise. Olivier is a board member for the college’s foundation and a former trustee who helped establish the college. That was the beginning of a friendship that introduced Lebrecht to one of Olivier’s favorite organizations—Collin County Community College.

“Royden had a very strong sense for other people. He was very impressed with Dr. (Cary) Israel,” Olivier said. “He also had incredible business sense. He was extremely successful.”

She continued, “Royden’s word was his bond. The greatest gift you can give others is the means to help themselves, and education is that means. I think that is what motivates people from his generation and mine to give scholarships. The two things he was most proud of were his service to his country and his family. He provided well for them, and on top of that he wanted to help others.”

According to Board of Trustees chairman Sam Roach, “Royden liked the community college concept and was thrilled when Collin signed a dual admission agreement with his alma mater, UNT.” The agreement allows students to complete freshman and sophomore classes at Collin while simultaneously admitted to UNT. The college holds similar agreements with Southern Methodist University, The University of Texas at Dallas, Texas Woman’s University and Texas A&M University-Commerce.

“Royden believed that education creates opportunity, and he was anxious to share some of his good fortune with generations to come,” Roach said. “We are so thankful to Royden and his family. Perhaps his gift will pay for the education of a student who one day will be as successful as he was.”

Collin president Cary Israel said Lebrecht’s gift will create the first endowed chair at the college--the Lebrecht Chair for the Center for Scholarly and Civic Engagement. “Royden loved Texas and loved community colleges. He was very important to us as a leader in business and civic engagement. We want to preserve his example of citizenship, so we are creating an endowed chair in his name to continue his legacy,” Israel said.

The charming southern gentleman reportedly left nearly a quarter of his estate to nonprofits. In Collin County, his generosity comes at a pivotal time as more and more Collin students need scholarships to attend college.

Collin is number one in projected enrollment growth of universities and colleges in the state of Texas. Since August, Collin has disbursed more than $11.3 million in financial aid, which is approaching the total for the entire previous year of $12.2 million. More than 70 percent of the state’s freshman and sophomore level students are enrolled at community colleges.

Israel said Lebrecht enjoyed the college’s Monopoly® fundraiser because it was based on real estate, the industry through which he built his fortune. “Several years ago at Monopoly®, we asked Royden for $1 million. He promised us that night that he would give us $1 million, and he came through. This is a tremendous milestone.”

According to Israel, “It takes a team to create opportunities for our students in need. Without Sue Olivier, none of this ever could have transpired. We are grateful for her leadership, advocacy and vision.”

According to Olivier, Lebrecht “brought joy and fun to life. I am glad I knew him, and I am proud to have been his friend.”

Collin College serves more than 46,000 credit and continuing education students annually and offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs. The only public college in the county, Collin College is a partner to business, government and industry, providing customized training and work force development.