It’s the story of a successful merger that continues to benefit Texas A&M University, most recently with a $2 million “dividend” for a faculty chair in industrial and systems engineering.

The merger harks back to 1963 when a Texas Aggie wed a University of Texas coed. To this day, W.M. “Mike” Barnes says he appreciates that Sugar Stubbs put her degree on hold to become the bride of a third-year industrial engineering student.

Mike and Sugar Barnes support faculty excellence in industrial and systems engineering.

The earliest years were lean for the high school sweethearts. While he earned three degrees in succession, she worked to help put him through school. But after his Aggie education led to the executive suites of Rockwell International, the couple began to make philanthropic support of higher education a way of life.

“Mike and Sugar are great friends of this institution, and this gift again demonstrates their devotion to Texas A&M,” said G. Kemble Bennett, vice chancellor and dean of engineering. “Faculty chairs are essential in our efforts to attract the very best faculty. In turn, the holder of the Barnes Chair will attract other talented faculty and students, enhancing our standing among the nation’s top 10 programs in industrial engineering.”

Funded through the Texas A&M Foundation, the Sugar and Mike Barnes Department Head Chair in Industrial and Systems Engineering will be used for student support, faculty development, curriculum enhancement and research initiatives in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.

“We are happy to support Texas A&M in providing their students with an outstanding education, which we have always believed is the key to success,” said Sugar Barnes, a certified public accountant who has practiced in Texas for 25 years.

The couple previously endowed a professorship in industrial engineering at Texas A&M, and have been frequent hosts for Aggie activities in San Antonio and southern California.

A basketball star from Waelder, Texas, Mike Barnes earned B.S. (1964) and M.S. (1966) degrees in industrial engineering, followed by a Ph.D. (1968) in operations research, all from Texas A&M. As a student, he was active in the American Institute of Industrial Engineers and was inducted into the Alpha Pi Mu industrial engineering and Tau Beta Pi engineering honor societies.

Barnes served as an instructor of maintainability engineering at the U.S. Army Logistics Training Center, an expert consultant to the assistant postmaster general in Washington, D.C., and a visiting professor of computer science at Southern Methodist University.

In 1968 he joined Collins Radio, a predecessor Rockwell company, as a member of the corporate operations research staff. His expertise in planning and forecasting benefited Rockwell’s commercial and defense businesses.

His key management positions at Rockwell included vice president, finance, Government Telecommunications Division; vice president, marketing and business development, Rockwell Telecommunications; and vice president and general manager, Switching Systems Division. While corporate vice president of business planning and development, he also had primary responsibility for Rockwell’s interface with its Allen-Bradley industrial automation subsidiary.

In 1991 Barnes was named senior vice president, finance and planning, and chief financial officer for Rockwell. He retired in 2001.

Barnes has served on numerous civic boards and councils, including the Independent Colleges of Southern California, the Orange County Business Council and the Town Hall Los Angeles leadership forum. He is also a former chairman of the Conference Board’s Council of Financial Executives.

He currently serves on the board of directors of Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE:AMD) as well as MetroPCS Communications Inc. and MetroPCS Wireless Inc. (NYSE:PCS). Previously he was on the board of A.O. Smith (NYSE:AOS).

At Texas A&M Barnes played a significant role in establishing the Rockwell International Corporation Professorship in Engineering. He represented the company in its gift of equipment and cash for a major laboratory in the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution, and in the Rockwell Fellowship Program for graduate students in computer science and electrical, industrial and mechanical engineering.

He is a member of the Texas A&M Engineering Advisory Council and has been honored as an Outstanding Alumnus of the engineering college and an Outstanding Former Student of the industrial and systems engineering department. Additionally in 2009 he was named the first recipient of the Texas Council of Industrial Engineering Academic Department Heads Lifetime Achievement Award.

Always a team, Mike and Sugar Barnes were charter members of the Chancellor’s Century Council at Texas A&M. They have been active in the United Way as members of the Alexis De Tocqueville Society.

Sugar Barnes is on the board of trustees of the Witte Museum in San Antonio, and has served on the museum’s development, finance and executive committees. She is a trustee and vice president of the Alamo Mission Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and is active in the alumnae chapter of Delta Gamma.

The native of Gonzales, Texas, did eventually return to the University of Texas, graduating with honors in accounting. She served on the Ethics Committee for the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy, taught accounting in the Dallas Community College System and was a traveling accounting lecturer for Texas A&M University.

The couple’s merger has produced other “dividends” for the Barnes family over the years. Son Bradley, Texas A&M Class of 1990, and his family live in San Antonio where he practices law. It’s possible that someday, say proud grandparents Mike and Sugar, there may be two more Aggies in the family.

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