Austin College Receives Gift for Wynne Chapel Renovation

SHERMAN, TEXAS—Austin College President Steven P. O’Day has announced a leadership gift to the college from the Mary K. and Clifford Grum Foundation of Lufkin, Texas, that will complete the funding for renovations to Wynne Chapel on campus and establish the Clifford J. Grum Sanctuary of Wynne Chapel. The sanctuary is the main venue within Wynne Chapel and in addition to worship services, is the site for campus-wide gatherings such as Opening of School Convocation, Honors Convocation, and high-profile guest speaker events.

Longtime Lufkin business and civic leader Clifford Grum, who died in December 2016, was a 1956 graduate of Austin College, a longtime member of its Board of Trustees, and a devoted supporter of its students.

“I did not have the privilege of knowing Clifford Grum, but I am grateful for what I have learned of him and the years of faithful leadership he provided as a member of the College’s Board of Trustees, his genuine love of his alma mater, and his generous philanthropy on behalf of our students,” President O’Day told alumni and friends gathered at the College May 12 at the Commencement celebration dinner during the spring meeting of the Board of Trustees.

 Grum served on Austin College’s Board of Trustees from 1981 to 2001. During that entire time, he served as chair or vice chair of the Development Committee. He also was a member of the Investment Committee and continued to attend that committee meeting as a senior trustee for many years. During the early years of his board service, he also served as vice chair of the board. Though he had not been able to visit the college for some time prior to his death, he remained in contact with college leadership and enjoyed updates and reports received as a senior trustee.

His widow, Mary K. Grum, arranged the foundation gift to Austin College knowing of her husband’s great affection for the college. She said that he had loved everything about the school, and at Austin College, he enjoyed a sense of family tradition since his sister, Nathalie “Sue,” graduated from Austin College in 1957, and their brother, Allen, attended prior to beginning a decorated career in the U.S. Army.

Mrs. Grum explained that the Clifford J. Grum Sanctuary will be the first connection of Clifford’s name to a gift. “He was always very low profile, no ostentation,” she said, adding that he wasn’t usually into bricks and mortar but wanted to make gifts for things such as scholarships that directly assisted students. “But, I think he would be so pleased for me to do this for the sanctuary of Austin College,” she said. “I think he is in heaven smiling about this gift. The chapel in his name will be a continuing symbol of his belief in, and fondness for, the college. I wanted to perpetuate that longtime affection.”

Continuing the gift announcement, President O’Day told those gathered some of what he had learned of Mr. Grum, who was a devoted husband and the father of one son, Christopher, who lives in Sugarland and works in the travel industry. He continued to speak of “Grum’s impressive business accomplishments, active civic life, devotion to the Presbyterian church, generous philanthropic history, and exciting role in the world of thoroughbred racing.” After a pause, he added, with a bit of a smile, “I think I would like to have known him.” And then he continued, “We are so pleased that his memory and his true love for our students will remain a part our community for generations to come.”

The Mary K. and Clifford Grum Foundation gift is part of a long tradition of philanthropy to Austin College from Clifford Grum. “His legacy at the College includes support for building projects, scholarships, professorships, leadership awards, and perhaps most notably, the Westminster Scholars Program that he established and supported over many years,” O’Day said.

Construction on Wynne Chapel will begin in April 2019 and consist of an interior redesign, updated projection and lighting systems, and facilities renovation. This new sanctuary will become a modern, functional worship center for the entire campus community, honoring the visionary leadership of Clifford Grum in the life of Austin College. Additional renovations include updates to what is known on campus as “the small chapel,” a multi-use room located at the southwest corner of the building, which will be renovated and named in honor of Sallie Majors, following a gift from Bob and Joyce Johnson of McLean, Virginia, in honor of his aunt. The chapel renovation is a project of the Austin College Faith & Engagement initiative, a $5 million effort to endow the Religious Life program, fully endow the chaplain position, and fund renovations to the entire Wynne Chapel facility.

Wynne Chapel was built in 1958 with a generous gift from Toddie Lee Wynne, Sr., of Dallas, a well-known oilman, civic leader, active Presbyterian, and former chair of the Austin College Board of Trustees. The chapel is home to numerous religious, student life, and academic activities.

About Clifford Grum

After graduating from Austin College, Grum earned an MBA degree from Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He started his career as a loan officer at Republic Bank in Dallas then joined Temple Industries in Diboll, Texas. In 1973, when it merged with Time, Inc., Grum moved to New York and served as first treasurer of Time, Inc.; publisher of Fortune Magazine; and executive vice president of Time, Inc. Ten years later, Temple Inland spun out of Time, Inc., and moved its headquarters to Diboll, and Grum led the firm as president, CEO, and chair until his retirement in 2000.

He served as a board member and then chair of First Bank and Trust East Texas in Diboll until his death. He previously had been on national boards, including Time, Inc.; Tupperware Brands; Cooper Industries; Guaranty Federal; Premark International; and Trinity Industries.

Grum was very involved in First Presbyterian Church of Lufkin, where he served as a deacon. He also was involved in church life when he lived in other communities and served as an elder for the National Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. He established The Janelle Grum Family Crisis Center of East Texas and the Early Childhood Learning Center at First Presbyterian Church in Lufkin. He also was a longtime supporter of Camp Cho-yeh in Livingston, Texas. He also is known for his generous support toward and creation of various hospitals and nursing schools in Haiti and several African countries.  

While living in New York, Grum developed a passion for horse racing, which remained an interest throughout his life, owning and racing thoroughbreds. 

About Austin College

Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 40 percent of students representing ethnic minorities. A residential student body of approximately 1,275 students and a faculty of more than 100 allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. The College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. Founded in 1849, the College is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.

Media Contacts:

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Vickie S. Kirby, [email protected], 903-813-2414