CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Officials with West Texas A&M University announced that Cheryl and Alex Fairly, two WTAMU alumni, gifted the university $20 million for a scholarly institution that aims to “promote the values of the Texas Panhandle.”

According to a WTAMU press release, the donation will fund The Hill Institute, which is an interdisciplinary academy of researchers, teachers, and students.

Officials said the institute was named after Joseph A. Hill, the second president at WTAMU and its longest-leader. WTAMU said the institute’s 10 values include, trust, family life, hard work, regard for others, personal responsibility, compatriotism and patriotism, virtue, faith, personal and civic loyalty, and rugged individualism.

“I am honored to be in Canyon for the announcement of the Hill Institute and hope it will be a model for all universities and college campuses across Texas and the nation,” said Lt. Gov. Patrick.

WATMU detailed that WTAMU president Walter Wendler worked with the Fairlys to ensure the institution’s mission aligns with WT 125: From t the Panhandle to the World.

“Joseph. A. Hill led this institution through, what I argue, were some of the most challenging times ever faced by this institution and which demanded bold leadership and responsiveness,” Wendler said in prepared remarks. “He spoke publicly and often wrote about the values of the people of the region, which he believed were essential to the settling, shaping and prosperity of the Panhandle, Texas and America.”

Officials said The Hill Institute officially was approved by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents in February 2022.

“What is happening across this campus is remarkable, and I believe it is in large part due to your leadership, Walter, as President,” said Sharp. “I want to thank the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents for their leadership. Our Regents have placed a high value on our regional institutions. They understand that each university in The System is distinct and that each regional university plays an essential role in serving the students, families, and communities where they are located.”

The release stated that this gift is the largest family gift in WT history as well as the largest gift to the One West campaign.

WATMU added that this donation pushed WT’s One West campaign over the $150 million mark the campaign aims to raise $175 million by 2025.

For the latest Amarillo news and regional updates, check with and tune in to KAMR Local 4 News at 5:00, 6:00, and 10:00 p.m. and Fox 14 News at 9:00 p.m. CST.