While listening to the oral history of W.I. Dykes, the first head of UHD and the last head of South Texas Junior College, he mentioned that one of his greatest accomplishments was settling the College into the M&M building.
After the move in 1967, however, the cost of refurbishing and repurposing the building for academic uses was staggering. Dykes and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Elliott Johnson, found themselves with a debt of $250,000, and unsure how to make up the difference (in today’s dollars, that would be about a $1.7m shortfall). C.W. Denman, who was the director of development at the time, suggested sending ” a letter” to alumni, the business community, past donors, anyone that they could think of. Dykes mentioned that no one seriously thought they could make up all that shortfall with a single request for money.
About a week after listening to this story, while going through a collection of donated materials, the “letter” appeared. It was not actually a letter, but a two-color brochure, double-sided, with photos of the new classrooms and labs, the library, students at work, and the administrators in their new location with “ample space.” In the text, it reminds the reader that all of the work done to “provide business and industry in this area with its greatest asset, trained personnel…is being done without any cost to the taxpayer and for this reason the Board feels that those who are served by this institution of higher learning will want to contribute to its continued growth and prosperity.”
And apparently they were right. In Dykes’ oral history, he said that it was by this single letter that they received, in donations, well over the $250,000 they needed. He was quite proud to say that no one ever expected they could accomplish so much with a single letter.