A $1.5 million endowment will cover tuition costs for four years at West Texas A&M University for Pampa and White Deer students, thanks to a recent gift by a Pampa man in memory of his late wife.
The ‘Donna Carol Germany Cofer Endowed Scholarship’ will provide a minimum of $10,000 per academic year to selected students from Pampa and White Deer.
The endowment helps WT fulfill its primary mission of serving the people of the Texas Panhandle, as laid out in the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.
While Bill nor Carol did not attended WT, they wanted to support students who wished to stay in the region.
“I have a scholarship at the University of North Texas, where I graduated from, for Pampa High graduates,” Bill Cofer said. “a0nd Carol wanted to set something up closer to home.”
Carol died in August, and Bill said he was determined to fulfill her wishes.
The scholarship should cover the students’ full tuition for a four-year period, said Dana Melcher, executive director of student financial services.
“We have several scholarships for students graduating from specific high schools, but they are usually $500 or $1,000,” Melcher said. “We don’t have any other scholarships of this size for any regional high school.”
A student will be selected from Pampa High School in odd years beginning in 2023 and from White Deer High School in even years.
“I hope that every student present this morning will look upon Mr. Cofer’s generosity in establishing this scholarship for you as an example and inspiration for what you can do with your life and for others,” WT President Walter V. Wendler said. “Mr. Cofers generous gift supports what we have said is most important in this campaign—people. Your gift helps WT make more real, more tangible for Pampa and White Deer students.”
“Through this endowment, our educational institutions can continue to offer opportunities for students to strive for academic success and, much like Bill and Carol, extend generosity to others,” Pampa High School Principal, Clay Jones said. “We are so thankful to the Cofer family for their generosity and for thinking of both communities of White Deer and Pampa.”
In attendance for the press conference were Superintendent of Pampa ISD - Hugh Piatt, Pampa High Principal - Clay Jones, White Deer ISD Superintendent - Duane Limbaugh, White Deer High Principal - Darla Forney and City of Pampa Mayor, Lance DeFever. One member of the WT Long Range Plan, Sherry Schaeffer said, “WT is the university of the Panhandle. This donation from Mr. Cofer furthers our goal.”
“Our goal is that as you have experiences within your high schools, and then WT is to help to grow you into the generation of tomorrow,” WT President, Walter Wendler said. “Our mission and job is to help you grow into engaged and productive citizens.”
Cofer started teaching in 1955 at Stinnet and moved many times with his wife, Carol, after taking a job with Cabot Corp.
“This event and moment isn’t about me, it’s about her,” Bill Cofer said. “We talked a lot before she passed about doing something for the Panhandle and now I have decided I will do something in her honor.”
Carol was born in Burkburnett and moved to Skellytown with her family for her fathers job. After graduating from White Deer ISD, Carol went into the work force at Citizens Bank. After attending school at the University of North Texas, Bill began teaching at Stinnet ISD as a coach. After a couple of years in the service, Bill and Carol married on Thanksgiving day and were together for 65 years. After teaching, Bill began work at Cabot Corp. as a purchasing agent. They moved to Kermit, TX and then were transferred to Beaver, OK and as far out as Louisiana. Bill says Carol could fit in no matter where they went.
“Carol was a special person,” Cofer said. “No matter where life took us, she made her way. She could be anything she wanted to be. That’s why this special scholarship is all impart to her.”
After being transferred many times, the Cofers were transferred to Pampa and mutually decided this is where they wanted to stay.
“I have one hope for this scholarship,” Cofer said. “My hope is that one day, down the road, two WT students will sit and talk about how they made it and one will be able to say, I had a lot of help from Donna Carol, that’s my hope.”
President Wendler reflected on the opportunity this scholarship can provide to students.
“This scholarship provides an opportunity that they may have not had,” Wendler said. “It also ties local folks from Pampa and White Deer into West Texas A&M University. More importantly it’s in the Panhandle. We need amazing students from these schools to continue growing and prospering our Panhandle community.”
Cofer repeated many times that the efforts he was putting forth with this scholarship was in memory of his wife.
“This wouldn’t have been as big if not for her passing,” Cofer said. “We talked many times about doing something close to home and how important it was to do something that would benefit Pampa and White Deer students. We had the means to set this in order, so I am doing that today on behalf of the both of us.”
With Cofer’s previous scholarship, four students were able to benefit from the scholarship and attend UNT. This scholarship to WT will follow the students all the way through the four years.
“Most scholarships help kids for their first year,” Cofer said. “But we wanted this to benefit them all four years. The thinking most have is that if you get them into their first year, they’ll figure a way out for the other three, but we are gonna solve that problem for them.”
The scholarship will begin with a student from Pampa this year, and then to White Deer next year, alternating years to provide a chance for both school districts. While there are other colleges near the Panhandle, such as Amarillo College or Clarendon College, both are only two years universities, where WT is a four year university. Ultimately, the deciding factor on the Cofers pick of WTAMU for their scholarship.
“We agree with President Wendler on doing everything you can to avoid going into debt for schooling,” Cofer said. “So we are pleased to help keep students out of that hole. Once you take money from the government, which is easy to do, you are indebted to them until that money is paid back, and it can add up.”
While Bills wife is no longer by his side, he says she was at the press conference with him today, making the kids they’ll be able to help kids of their own.
“We don’t have our own kids, the students we help are our kids,” Cofer said. “She’d be really pleased with today, with what we’re going to be able to do.”
For more information on this scholarship, contact Pampa High School at (806) 669-4800
*Portions Of This Article Provided by WTAMU Press Release from February 2, 2023*