Alumna’s Estate Gifts $975,000 to A&M-Commerce Planetarium and Chemistry Program

The late Georgia Mae Waters Dorrough gifted $975,000, through her estate, to the College of Science and Engineering at A&M-Commerce.

The Georgia M. Dorrough Planetarium Endowment, the Georgia M. Dorrough Planetarium Maintenance Endowment, and the Georgia M. Dorrough Endowed Chair in Chemistry will significantly impact the university’s Department of Chemistry and Planetarium.

According to Dr. Thomas West, Department of Chemistry head and professor, the generous gift enables the department to purchase and maintain current equipment that students use for hands-on learning and laboratory research.

A large portion of the estate gift will also fund an endowed chemistry chair to support innovative teaching programs and projects that will promote student recruitment and retention. Additionally, the endowment will bring guest speakers to campus from various chemistry fields, which will serve to broaden students’ exposure to cutting-edge research. The gift will also provide research and travel funds to students and faculty members.

“On behalf of the Department of Chemistry, I am grateful to the late Ms. Dorrough for providing our students with the necessary resources to support their professional development so that they may become highly successful chemists with marketable skills,” West said. “We expect that her gift will allow our current and future students to impact the field of chemistry significantly.”

The endowment will also enable children in grades K-8 from Red River County schools—Dorrough’s home—to receive free transportation and entrance fees to the university's planetarium. As a result, schools may bring students to campus without incurring transportation costs and other field trip-related expenses.

According to Dr. Cheri Davis, Planetarium director at A&M-Commerce, “A campus visit is so much more than just seeing a planetarium show. Any time students can visit our campus, they get a glimpse of the college experience. For some, this may be their only opportunity to visit a college campus, and we would like to think the exposure may influence later college decisions.”

Davis explained that, while visiting the Planetarium, students have the opportunity to learn about astronomy and enjoy an engaging show. They also get an up-close view of the current night sky at each performance, allowing them to experience the wonders of astronomy.

“We are very thankful for all who promote STEM education, and the Dorroughs were long-time supporters of the Planetarium,” Davis said.

Ms. Dorrough received a Master of Education from East Texas State Teachers College, now A&M-Commerce, in 1950. She was a retired nutritionist and worked for many years as a home economics teacher at Clarksville High School.

Ms. Georgia Dorrough

According to her close friend, A&M-Commerce alumna Annette Welch, Dorrough had a life-long passion for education.

“She wanted the children of Red River County to enjoy experiences that many in our small, rural community never get,” Welch said. “She spoke many times of funding the Planetarium at A&M-Commerce with the idea that if school children experience exciting science, it will spark an interest that could fuel their future educational goals.”

Dr. Brent Donham, dean of the College of Science and Engineering, emphasized the impact of the Dorrough Endowment.

“This gift will not only result in an immediate benefit to the Department of Chemistry and the Planetarium, but it will have a lasting impact on generations of students,” Donham said. “It is only through the generosity of individuals like Ms. Dorrough that our college's mission—Innovation and Discovery—will be fully realized.”

Ms. Dorrough passed away on August 11, 2019, at the age of 92, but her generosity will touch lives for generations to come.

“The good she has done for others and the kindnesses she has shown will never be forgotten,” Welch said.

For more information about giving opportunities at A&M-Commerce, contact [email protected] or 903.468.8187.