A Mississippi State alumnus now residing in coastal Texas is making a very personal gift to the university: South Mississippi farmland that has been in his family since 1900.
Wayne O'Quin of Galveston owns the approximately 127-acre Pike County farm located five miles east of Osyka. The property is becoming part of MSU's Bulldog Forest Program to be managed as a wildlife habitat by the College of Forest Resources.
"Wayne O'Quin's gift will have a lasting impact on the college," said Dean George M. Hopper. "It demonstrates his commitment to the tradition of yesterday, plus a strong vision for tomorrow."
Hopper said earnings "from wise management of the land will be placed in an endowed fund to benefit the college."
A 1959 chemical engineering graduate, O'Quin long has supported his alma mater with volunteered time and financial resources. In addition to serving as a member of the advisory board for the Swalm School of Chemical Engineering, he has contributed to MSU athletics.
He is retired from a nearly four-decade career with Philadelphia, Pa.-based Total S.A., the world's fourth-largest oil and gas company and an international chemicals manufacturer. Over time, he worked in Kentucky, Oklahoma and Texas, and was a plant manager for 24 years.
The Bulldog Forest Program enables donors to provide a lasting legacy in their family's name. Properties may be held for an extended period of time, with funds generated from timber sales, hunting leases, oil and gas leases, conservation programs, and other means used by the university for donor-specified charitable purposes.
As part of the agreement, funds generated from the property in excess of required management costs will be placed in the Norma Lea O'Quin Endowed Bulldog Forest Fund of the MSU Foundation.
Bulldog Forest properties may retain the name of the individual donor or family. The Pike property now will be known formally as the Norma Lea O'Quin Bulldog Forest in memory of O'Quin's mother who died in 2004.
"The farmland is part of my family's legacy," O'Quin said. "I decided to make this gift to Mississippi State so it could be managed by professionals to serve a beneficial role in the community."
"I also wanted the funds to be used for scholarships to benefit MSU students," he added.
The original, early 20th century owner of the property was O'Quin's grandmother, Dora Garner Lea. Subsequently, it was in share-crop operation, producing cotton, corn and sugar cane. In the mid-1940s, Norma Lea O'Quin and husband Carroll converted the property to dairy farming, which continued until 1995.
"My mother spent her life there," O'Quin recalled recently. "She was devoted to the farm, seeing it through hard times until she died."
"For those reasons, our family wanted to honor her in a fitting way by naming the Bulldog Forest for her."
O'Quin and his wife Alice, a New York native retired from a health-care management career, have been married for 18 years. Their oldest son, Robert, is a 1988 MSU mechanical engineering graduate. In addition, there are daughter Caroline, who attended MSU, and youngest son Michael.
The O'Quin Endowed Bulldog Forest Fund is an open account in the MSU Foundation that may be increased through additional contributions. For more information, contact Jeff Little, the College of Forest Resources' development director, at 662-325-8151 or email@example.com.