Abilene Christian University has received $55 million from three donors – including the largest gift in university history – to begin a series of construction projects that will transform the campus in a way not seen for nearly 50 years.

Robert R. and Kay M. Onstead

Kay Onstead of Houston, Texas, is president of Onstead Holdings LLC and of the Robert R. and Kay M. Onstead Foundation. Her gift of $10 million will fund the Robert and Kay Onstead Science Center in honor of her late husband, Robert Onstead, former member of the ACU Board of Trustees (1978-2004).

Three of the couple’s children and three of their grandchildren attended ACU. Their son, Charles, is a member of ACU’s Board of Trustees.

Robert was an esteemed businessman in Houston and Dallas, whose career in the grocery business shaped that industry. In 1966 he co-founded Randalls Food Markets in Houston, growing the chain to 42 stores and more than $1 billion in revenues by 1991. He later bought Tom Thumb and Simon David franchises, building a network across Texas of 116 food and drug stores with more than 18,000 employees committed to treating customers like family.

Robert was lifetime director of the Texas State Fair and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and served in leadership roles on numerous boards, including MD Anderson Cancer Center, Greater Houston Partnership, Houston Economic Development Council, Texas Commerce Bank, JP Morgan Chase Bank, Methodist Hospital System, Houston Zoo Inc. and Lifeline Chaplaincy. At ACU, the Onstead Wing of the Onstead-Packer Biblical Studies Building bears his and Kay’s names.

She and Robert previously provided funds to help build the Teague Special Events Center, Hunter Welcome Center, Money Student Recreation and Wellness Center, and scholarship and faculty endowments in the College of Biblical Studies and the College of Business Administration.

Kay’s $10 million gift is the sixth-largest in ACU history.