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MSU secures partial funding for county school partnership




Carl Smith



Mississippi State University secured $1 million toward an Oktibbeha County partnership school after a Texas-based couple donated $12.3 million to the school's Infinite Impact fundraising campaign, the university announced Monday. 


The donation, made by Tommy and Terri Nusz, two MSU alumni residing in Houston, Texas, will benefit multiple academic colleges and new construction efforts, including a proposed partnership between the university and the forthcoming consolidated school system. 


For months, MSU officials have hinted at plans that would establish the consolidated school district as a demonstration district and construct a middle school on its campus. Although details on the upcoming partnership have been limited, David Shaw, MSU's vice president for research and economic development, said the agreement will not create competition or work against the consolidated school system's goals in any way. 


The Oktibbeha County School District and the Starkville School District will merge on July 1, 2015. Consolidation commissioners met at 9 a.m. today to discuss funding opportunities for other new construction. Those discussions were unavailable at presstime. 


In October, MSU announced its intention to raise $600 million by 2018 through Infinite Impact, a capital fundraising campaign. The university had quietly secured almost $345 million since 2010, when it unveiled the initiative through numerous donations. Secured funds will benefit the school's eight academic colleges, the Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College, MSU Meridian, the university's library and athletics department.  


With the Nusz's donation, the university announced Monday it has reached the $375 million mark through Infinite Impact donations. 


The Nusz donation will provide: $250,000 for a strategic initiative fund to be utilized by the James Worth Bagley College of Engineering dean; $1 million to create the Nusz Engineering Student Excellence Endowment; $1.75 million to create the Thomas B. Nusz Endowed Chair for petroleum- and energy-related studies; $1 million to construct a new engineering and science building to house the civil and environmental engineering department; $2 million to construct a new facility for the G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery Center for America's Veterans; $2 million to help fund a new Olympic sports facility; $300,000 to establish the Meagan Nusz Excellence in Women's Sports Fund; $1 million for MSU sports programs; $1 million to establish the Terri Nusz Equine Professorship; and the $1 million for Oktibbeha County schools, which will be used for construction and start-up money for the school.  


Remaining funds will be held for future university use as determined by the family.  


"The leadership-level commitment from MSU alumni Tommy and Terri Nusz will have a far-reaching impact in helping Mississippi State University provide leadership and advance its mission of education, outreach and research," said MSU President Mark Keenum in a release. "This significant gift helps us continue the momentum in our capital campaign and will be invaluable as we provide funding for much-needed facilities, endowed positions in engineering and veterinary medicine, a pioneer school for research in education, generous support for American veterans and enhancements for our athletic programs." 


Tommy Nusz co-founded the Houston-based Oasis Petroleum company in 2007, a venture in which he serves as president, CEO and board chairman. Previously, he worked as an engineer for Superior Oil, Mobil Oil and Meridian Oil, and also a division vice president for Burlington Resources, which was purchased by Conoco Phillips.  


Tommy and Terri Nusz met at MSU and graduated in 1982. He earned a degree in petroleum engineering, while she studied interior design. Their son, Brant, is a junior at the university. 


"Our recent gift to Mississippi State is a manifestation of our family's love of the university," Tommy Nusz said in a release. "Each of us selected areas of MSU where we believed we could make the most impact within the university and out into the world."


Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch



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