TWU Aeronautics Takes Flight with ‘Historic’ Doswell Gift, Aims to Soar in Training Pilots

With the aviation industry needing hundreds of thousands of new pilots in the coming decades, Texas Woman's University in Denton aims to soar to new heights in aeronautics education. A $15 million donation—the largest foundation gift in TWU history—will establish the Doswell School of Aeronautical Sciences—and help put more women in pilot's seats from coast to coast.

The sky’s the limit for aspiring aviators at Texas Woman’s University in Denton. A transformational $15 million gift from the Dallas-based Doswell Foundation will launch TWU’s aeronautical sciences program, aiming to empower students to soar to new heights in aviation.

With the flight path now cleared for takeoff in 2024, TWU is poised to open up the wild blue yonder for the next generation of trailblazing pilots. The foundation’s donation, the largest in TWU history, will establish the Doswell School of Aeronautical Sciences.

Addressing a nationwide pilot shortage—and putting more women in the pilot’s seat

The program aims to address a nationwide pilot shortage and increase the number of women commercial pilots.

“The Doswell gift is the largest gift ever from a foundation for Texas Woman’s and will provide seed money to hire faculty, equipment, and provide scholarships for incoming students,” a university spokesperson told Dallas Innovates.

The program comes at a pivotal moment, as industry leaders predict a demand for 600,000 new pilots in the coming decades. Today, only 5% of commercial pilots are women, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

TWU said program is expected to begin enrolling students in August 2024.

Doswell Foundation CEO and Chairman Beverly Fricke and foundation board members recently celebrated the partnership at a special dinner with board of regents Chair Stacie McDavid and fellow regents. During the regents’ meeting, the foundation presented Texas Woman’s Chancellor Carine Feyten with an initial payment of $1 million toward the gift.

Family foundation was established in 2008

Texas Woman’s University Chancellor Carine M. Feyten (left) and Doswell Foundation CEO Beverly Fricke hold a check for $1 million, the first payment toward the foundation’s historic $15 million commitment to the Doswell School of Aeronautical Sciences at Texas Woman’s University. [Photo: TWU]

The H.J. & Florence A. Doswell Foundation is a family foundation established in 2008, and it and the late philanthropist Florence Doswell have been longtime supporters of TWU’s College of Nursing.

The foundation has a history of supporting causes in education, health, human services, and arts and culture. Florence Annette Ward Doswell, who made her fortune with her husband H.J. Doswell in oil and gas and passed away in 2012 at the age of 100, became a philanthropist after her long career in the industry.

In 2008, she donated $3 million to Texas Woman’s University College of Nursing, one of the largest gifts ever received by the Denton school at that time and founded the Doswell Foundation. Most recently, the foundation gifted $1.5 million to create a new Nursing Center for Scientific Research and Discovery at TWU’s Dallas campus.

Remembering a ‘wonder in a wheelchair’

Former associate dean Stephanie Woods remembers the “wonder in a wheelchair” who was a driving force behind TWU’s nursing program in Dallas 15 years ago.

Doswell, who was in her 90s at the time, had a “soft spot” for nursing students, according to TWU magazine. It was a connection that formed during her husband’s battle with cancer. Oil and Gas man Houston Doswell passed on his fortune to his wife.

“She was in a motorized wheelchair, with flaming red hair, fuchsia fingernails, and a designer trenchcoat with military epaulettes in gold. She was just stunning,” Woods told TWU magazine, adding, “She thought it was amazing that someone who had come as far as she had could have her name on the side of a building.”

Earlier this year, the foundation awarded Dallas CASA four years of funding, totaling $584,931, to create a post-case mentoring pilot program to help support youth aging out of foster care.

Texas Woman’s University is the nation’s largest woman-focused institution and in 2021, total student enrollment from its campuses in Denton, Dallas and Houston exceeded 16,300.

Texas Woman’s is recognized for its contributions and leadership in the health sciences, education, business, arts and sciences. The university’s Jane Nelson Institute for Women’s Leadership focuses on increasing opportunities for women in business, politics and public policy, and student leadership.

Male students have been admitted to the university’s graduate programs since 1972 and undergraduate programs since 1994.

More scenes from the August 11 event

Dowell Foundation board members celebrate with Texas Woman’s officials on Aug. 11. Front row from left: Foundation CEO and Chairman Beverly Fricke; foundation Board Member and former TWU Associate Dean of Nursing Stephanie Woods; foundation Board Member Rita Mills; and TWU Board of Regents Chair Stacie D. McDavid. Back row from left: TWU Vice President for University Advancement Kimberly Russell; TWU Provost Finley Graves; TWU Chancellor Carine M. Feyten; and Foundation Board Member Stephen Roderick. [Photo: TWU]

Doswell Foundation board members posed with the Texas Woman’s University System Board of Regents and displayed a proclamation recognizing the formation of the Doswell School of Aeronautical Sciences at TWU. Front row from left; Foundation Board Members Stephen Roderick, Beverly Fricke (CEO and chairman), Stephanie Woods, and Rita Mills. Center row from left: TWU Regents Bernadette C. Coleman; Ellen Amirkhan; Chair Stacie D. McDavid; Janelle Shepard; Mary P. Wilson; and Jill Jester. Rear row: Regent Bob Hyde; TWU Chancellor Carine M. Feyten; Student Regent Jianna Covarelli; and Regent Kathleen Wu. [Photo: TWU]

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