WT Pledges Support for Students, Others Impacted by Panhandle Wildfires

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Chip Chandler Feb 28, 2024
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WT Pledges Support for Students, Others Impacted by Panhandle Wildfires

Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124,


CANYON, Texas — As wildfires ravage the Texas Panhandle region, West Texas A&M University is reaching out to support students from the impacted areas.

As of the morning of Feb. 28, wildfires were burning on more than 650,000 acres across the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles, prompting emergency evacuations and shelter-in-place orders in a significant number of towns.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all of our Buff family members and everyone else in the regions affected by these fires,” said Dr. Chris Thomas, vice president for student affairs. “This morning, we compiled a list of students from the impacted regions, and we’re reaching out to them today to see what their needs are. Whether it’s medical, mental health, food or temporary housing needs, we have resources to help these Buffs.”

Almost 600 WT students enrolled for spring 2024 are from one of the towns or counties impacted by the Panhandle-area fires.

Students will be emailed and texted, and WT also will use social media posts to encourage students to contact Thomas directly when they are able. Thomas can be reached at 806-651-2053 or

In a Feb. 28 memo, WT President Walter V. Wendler reiterated the University’s commitment to support the region and the WT community. Wendler encouraged students, faculty and staff to attend to their first priorities if wildfires have directly impacted them.

“I know that I speak for the whole Buffalo community when I say that our prayers and our hearts are bent toward those of you who are experiencing the tragedies that accompany wildfires,” Wendler wrote. “Our hearts and the communities they create will persevere.”

WT is committed to serve its students and the region as a whole, as laid out in the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic One West comprehensive fundraising campaign, which reached its initial $125 million goal 18 months after publicly launching in September 2021. The campaign’s new goal is to reach $175 million by 2025; currently, it has raised more than $150 million.



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 and more than 40 graduate degrees, including 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.