Texas A&M University-Commerce will soon be home to an innovative gamebird research and education facility, thanks to a historic gift from alumnus Ted B. Lyon and his wife, Donna. Construction of the Ted and Donna Lyon Center for Gamebird Research at Texas A&M University-Commerce will begin in 2024.
In December 2022, the Lyons gifted $1 million to the university—the largest all-cash gift with immediate impact in university history—to support their shared passion for wildlife conservation.
Dr. Kelly Reyna, associate professor and director of the Quail Research Laboratory at Texas A&M University-Commerce, will serve as the gamebird center's director.
He said the Lyons' donation will support several gamebird research and education initiatives at Texas A&M University-Commerce, including separate endowments for constructing and operating the new center and funding gamebird research.
“The Lyons' generous gift will create a world-class research facility and an endowed professorship that will position Texas A&M University-Commerce to recruit and retain high-quality faculty and provide resources to promote innovative gamebird research,” Reyna said. “Their gift will also establish the Ted and Donna Lyon Scholars program benefiting Texas A&M University-Commerce students who are committed to gamebird conservation and sustainability.”
Reyna said the research center—projected to open in early 2025—will be located 1.5 miles south of campus, “where the uplands meet the wetlands.” The center will include a state-of-the-art quail research and production facility, a wetland research station, large classrooms and meeting spaces, wetland and upland nature trails, and office space for gamebird faculty and students.
“Gamebirds are vitally important to all Americans, not just hunters,” Reyna said. “Not only are gamebirds the basis of a multi-billion-dollar hunting industry, but gamebird habitat also filters our air, cleans our water, recharges aquifers, and sequesters carbon. These basic human necessities make restoring gamebirds and their habitat a priority for Texas and the U.S.”
Ted and Donna have deep ties to Northeast Texas. Born and raised in Terrell, Texas, the high school sweethearts married after graduation. While Ted worked as a police officer, Donna worked as an executive assistant for Southwestern Bell. Their shared commitment and work ethic helped Ted earn his bachelor's degree in political science from East Texas State University (now Texas A&M University-Commerce) and a Juris Doctorate from Southern Methodist University School of Law.
Their unrelenting stewardship of wildlife and natural spaces inspired them to create a legacy of conservation that matches the center's mission to foster sustainable gamebird populations through innovative research, education and collaboration.
Texas A&M University-Commerce President Mark Rudin said the university is proud to partner with the Lyons to ensure future generations enjoy gamebird hunting and connecting with nature.
“It is a joy to know the Lyons and witness their genuine passion for Texas A&M University-Commerce and our students,” Rudin said. “With leaders like Ted and Donna, the university will continue to advance research that accelerates gamebird conservation across Texas and the nation. I know their generosity and passion will inspire others to join the university and contribute to the Lyon Center for Gamebird Research.”
Visit www.tamuc.edu/Quail to learn more about quail research at Texas A&M University-Commerce. Explore opportunities to support Texas A&M University-Commerce research and other initiatives at www.tamuc.edu/Giving.