Red and Charline McCombs, who have been among Southwestern University’s most visible donors and supporters, were recognized this week for their contributions to higher education in Texas.

The couple received the Mirabeau B. Lamar Medal, which has been presented since 1977 to those providing exemplary service to Texas higher education. The award was presented Jan. 28 at a ceremony at the Headliners Club in Austin. 

The Lamar Medal is named for Mirabeau B. Lamar, the second president of the Republic of Texas. Lamar is called the “Father of Texas Education” because under his administration, provisions were made for education at all levels in the state. The award is presented by the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas (ICUT), the Council for Public University Presidents and Chancellors, and the Texas Association of Community Colleges.

Previous recipients of the award include former Lieutenant Governors Bob Bullock and William Hobby; Peter T. Flawn, former president of The University of Texas at Austin; Norman Hackerman, former president of Rice University; Houston developer George Mitchell; former State Senators John Montford and Carl Parker; current State Representative Irma Rangel; and current State Senator Judith Zaffirini. 

Southwestern nominated the McCombs for the award this year because of their contributions to colleges and universities across the state. “All branches of higher education in Texas have been deeply strengthened and more accessible because of the McCombs’ support,” Southwestern President Jake B. Schrum said in nominating the couple for the award. 

The McCombs have made multi-million dollar gifts to several institutions in Texas, including The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, The University of Texas at Austin and Southwestern University. Their gifts to Southwestern have helped fund minority scholarships, residential facilities and the campus center, which bears their name.

“The McCombs have long believed that higher education should not be a privilege, but rather an opportunity for anyone who has the passion, intellect and desire to learn,” Schrum said.

Both Mr. and Mrs. McCombs attended Southwestern University, as well as Corpus Christi Junior College. Mr. McCombs also attended The University of Texas and The University of Texas School of Law. After completing his education, McCombs launched his business career as an entrepreneur. In 1950, he began selling Ford automobiles and within three years progressed to owning his own car business. Later, he became the founder and CEO of McCombs Enterprises, a corporation of automobile dealerships, land and real estate development, ranches, cattle, and oil and gas production. McCombs Enterprises formerly owned several sports teams, including the San Antonio Spurs, the Denver Nuggets and the Minnesota Vikings. McCombs also co-founded Clear Channel Communications, which operates radio and television stations and outdoor displays in 65 countries.

Mr. McCombs has served on Southwestern’s Board of Trustees since 1987 and was chair of the board from 1992 through 2000 during the Leadership 2000 Campaign, which raised more than $91 million. He currently serves as an honorary chair of Thinking Ahead: The Southwestern Campaign, which has a goal of $125 million.

Mr. McCombs also has served on M.D. Anderson’s Board of Visitors, Alamo Community College District’s Advisory Committee, The University of Texas at San Antonio’s Development Board, and held several volunteer leadership positions at The University of Texas at Austin. He received Southwestern University’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1990, UT’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1998, and the Southwestern University Medal in 2000. 

Mrs. McCombs was a charter member of Southwestern’s Board of Visitors, and has been a strong supporter of the University’s Dixon Scholars Program, which offers full and partial scholarships to students of Hispanic, African-American and Native American descent. 

The couple received the President’s Philanthropy Award from Southwestern in 2006.


Related News & Events