Reaching Back to Pull Students Forward: Jiles Daniels, Jr. ’80 Makes His Passion His Legacy through a Planned Gift to PVAMU
For Jiles Daniels, Jr. ’80, it is not about him. It has never been. His father made sure of that.
“When I was in grade school, my father told me that success is when your children can provide for their children better than you were able to provide for them,” shares Jiles upon considering his legacy. “It is this philosophy that I would like to leave to the next generation.”
With the seeds planted by his father, Jiles strives to improve the lives of others through mentoring, volunteering, and philanthropic contributions with a particular focus on furthering his alma mater. Recently, he increased his giving with a $25,000 commitment to PVAMU in his living trust and will.
“I am passionate about reaching back to pull forward as many young professionals as I can,” says Jiles who graduated summa cum laude and went on to hold several senior level management positions at ExxonMobil while also leading two privately held companies. “I hope that through giving, I can elevate others to heights greater than what I have been able to achieve myself.”
The list of Jiles’ accomplishments is long, but the credit, he stresses, goes to PVAMU. “Both of my parents are graduates of PVAMU, as are my brother and sister and my children,” states Jiles. “The university provided the education that allowed my parents to provide a very comfortable life for me to excel beyond my expectations. The education my children received made them self-sufficient contributing members of society. I am deeply inspired by what PVAMU has done for my family and me. Hopefully, my donation will help carry forward the benefits I received.”
Although recognized as PVAMU Engineer of the Year and Student of the Year, individual academic accomplishments are not what set Jiles’ university experience apart. It was the professors. One faculty member, Jiles remembers, refused to give him an A although he thought he earned it.
“Alumni giving is central to the success and sustainability of Prairie View,” states PVAMU President Ruth J. Simmons. “Jiles’ bequest is a wonderful example of how alumni can support the university and our students long into the future. We are grateful for his vision, leadership, and generosity.”
“When I asked Professor Thetis Edmonds why she lowered my final grade to a B, she said because I could not spell and to earn an A in my career, I would have to learn to spell correctly,” Jiles recalls. “She went on to tell me that the reason she gave me that B was to help me to remember that B is for the ‘book’ that I should always have near me in the corporate world —a dictionary.”
Professor Edmonds’ lesson is just one of many that shaped Jiles’ career. “There are many more memories like this,” he says. “The long-term impact of Prairie View professors are indescribable.”
As Jiles reflects upon his past at PVAMU, his grandchildren, now in high school, look forward to their future as students at the university. And Jiles, who serves on the Prairie View A&M Foundation Board of Trustees, knows that they will be in good hands.
“The university and its professors care about students. They focus on preparing students for life, not just getting them to graduation. They believe in students and students excel because of it. It is not just a university; it is a great big family—a family intent on securing a positive future for students. I am honored to be a part of that.”