Wellington State Bank, WT Team to Improve Banking Education

Chip Chandler Jan 12, 2022
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Wellington State Bank, WT Team to Improve Banking Education

Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124,


CANYON, Texas — A business classroom and two scholarship funds will be named for a prominent regional bank known for its support of farmers and ranchers following a recent major gift to West Texas A&M University.

Renovations are beginning on the new Wellington State Bank Cybersecurity Lab in WT’s Classroom Center following a $100,000 gift from the bank, which has locations in 14 Texas towns, including Canyon and its namesake, Wellington.

“We are proud to partner with a great institution like WT to provide a meaningful educational program in such an invaluable realm of our industry,” said Richard Sims, president and CEO of Wellington State Bank and a 1980 WT graduate. “Cybersecurity is essential for anybody dealing with other people’s money. We have to do everything we can to keep the worst from happening to our customers.”

The lab will provide a visible and highly active source of cybersecurity knowledge for Texas Panhandle students, citizens, businesses and local governments, said Dr. Amjad Abdullat, dean of the Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business. The lab will be part of the Engler College of Business and will closely partner with the University's Information Technology division.

“We appreciate the generous donation and the collaborative effort with Wellington State Bank represented by these scholarships and the naming of the newly established lab,” Abdullat said. “The lab will allow our faculty to perform research in this cutting-edge field. The scholarship will enable our students to pursue their academic education and make a huge difference in achieving their goals.”

Collaborations between the University and regional businesses are essential “to delivering expert knowledge to the Panhandle region and perfectly reflect the vision of WT 125,” said James Webb, vice president for IT and chief information officer.

“The partnership between IT and the Engler College of Business is a strong example of academics working together with industry professionals to not only enhance research, but to provide the latest guidance and best practices to our region,” Webb said.

The gift also provides two scholarship endowments for students majoring in business or agricultural business and economics who plan to enter the banking profession.

The first recipients are Ryan Cordell, senior finance major from Choctaw, Okla., and Branson Cruse, junior agricultural business and economics major from Turkey.

“We’re glad that this gift also can help students finish their degrees,” Sims said. “In the long haul, we hope this will enhance the workforce in the banking industry, especially in rural communities. We have locations in 10 rural towns in our region, so we know it can sometimes be challenging to find qualified employees who want to move to smaller locations.”

“We are very grateful for the partnership with Wellington State Bank in providing scholarships to students studying business and agriculture,” said Dr. Kevin Pond, dean of the Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences. “This scholarship helps deserving students reach their goals and become productive contributors to society upon graduation.”

Wellington State Bank’s gift is in recognition of the crucial role WT plays in filling regional needs, a key tenet of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World. That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign.

To date, the five-year campaign — which publicly launched Sept. 23 — has raised about $85 million.

“Investments from our corporate partners is an important recognition of the quality of programs provided by WT,” said Dr. Todd Rasberry, vice present for philanthropy and external relations. “Wellington State Bank’s gift adds strength and credibility to the business program offerings in the Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business. Students will study and learn from faculty in a named space that exemplifies this important partnership.”


About West Texas A&M University

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. WT, a Hispanic Serving Institution since 2016, boasts an enrollment of about 10,000 and offers 59 undergraduate degree programs, 39 master’s degrees and two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 14 men’s and women’s athletics programs.