Ray A. Rothrock is usually not the man behind the scenes but more often the leader out front. The venture capitalist is widely known at his alma mater, Texas A&M University, for generous gifts of time and resources. Now he has given the universitys nuclear engineering department a major boost through scholarships endowed by other donors.

In 2009 Rothrock, Texas A&M Class of 1977, issued a challenge to classmates and other interested partieshe would provide $50,000 to match gifts for the newly established Robert G. Cochran, Sr. Memorial Scholarship fund. All gifts to the fund are managed by the Texas A&M Foundation.

Ray Rothrock, Texas A&M Class of 1977

Rays gift is both unique and of extraordinary importance to the department as we strive to attract the best and brightest nuclear engineering candidates to A&M, in a field that is becoming ever more competitive as the nation wakes up to its alternative energy imperative, said Raymond J. Juzaitis, Texas A&M nuclear engineering department head and holder of the Sallie and Don Davis Professorship in Engineering.

The scholarship program honors the memory of the universitys first nuclear engineering department head. Bob Cochran, who served Texas A&M for 22 years, was also a founder and charter member of the American Nuclear Society. He served as a consultant to the Atomic Energy Commission, the U.S. military and other high-level organizations.

Dr. Cochran was one of those nuclear professors who wrote the book, literally. That generation of nuclear masters of their domain is passing now and somehow we have to keep their memories alive. His leadership in the early days of nuclear power was essential to this country, and to this university, said Rothrock, a general partner with Venrock Associates, one of the oldest venture capital firms in the United States.

Rothrock earned a B.S. degree summa cum laude in nuclear engineering from Texas A&M in 1977. As an undergraduate, he received the Distinguished Student Award his senior year from the Memorial Student Center (MSC). He was a member of the Student Engineers Council and president of the campus Radio Club W5AC, which earned him a spot on the MSC Directorate. He played clarinet and was a founder of the University Symphonic Band in 1975. Rothrock was also inducted to Tau Beta Pi engineering society and Phi Kappa Phi honor society for his academic prowess.

He went on to earn an M.S. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he currently serves on the MIT Nuclear Science and Engineering Visiting Committee. He also holds an MBA degree with distinction from Harvard Business School.

Today at Texas A&M Rothrock is a member of the Association of Former Students board of directors and serves on the Liberal Arts Development Council. He served on the Texas A&M Foundation (TAMF) investment advisory board, and is a former trustee and former chairman of the investment committee of the TAMF board of trustees.

In 2010 TAMF established a Sul Ross Scholarship in his honor, with a preference for a junior or senior cadet with a demonstrated interest in and passion for international affairs.

Previous gifts to Texas A&M by Rothrock and his wife, Meredith, have benefited a wide cross-section of campus, including annual scholarships for nuclear engineering students; an endowed faculty chair in music and faculty fellowships in the liberal arts college; an endowed scholarship for students from underrepresented groups; support for the Wayne Stark Endowed Fund to broaden student leaders experiences, the Corps of Cadets and the Association of Former Students headquarters; and more recently the expansion and remodeling of the Memorial Student Center.

The Texas A&M Foundation is a non-profit organization that receives major gifts and manages endowments for the sole benefit of Texas A&M University.

Written by Exa York