Cardinal Cadence Fall 2012

DeWayne Layfield, TSUS Foundation honored with $2 million LU scholarship

Layfield familyStudents in the College of Engineering will benefit from scholarships thanks to the combined generosity of The Beaumont Foundation of America and The Texas State University System Foundation.

The two joined in creating the L. DeWayne Layfield–Texas State University System Foundation Scholarship by contributing $1 million each. The $2 million endowment will provide scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students majoring in engineering. Layfield ’87 is a Beaumont attorney and Lamar graduate.

“We are grateful to the Beaumont Foundation and the TSUS Foundation for their support in establishing the DeWayne Layfield–TSUS Foundation Scholarship,” said President James Simmons when the scholarship was announced. “It’s wonderful that these two foundations have joined in supporting Lamar University.”

“This is, without question, the largest gift the TSUS Foundation has ever given by far and an extraordinary gift for the university,” said regent and TSUS Foundation trustee Kevin Lilly.

“Mr. Layfield has distinguished himself in the practice of law, and we are proud to count him among the outstanding alumni of Lamar University,” Simmons said. “It is fitting that his name will forever be associated with opportunity for countless students as they too realize their own personal dreams through higher education.”

“The dream or hope of exaltation comes from the occasional graduate who becomes a state or national leader. Dwayne Layfield is the dream of exaltation made real at Lamar University as a state and nationally recognized legal professional in the area of complex litigation,” said Beaumont Foundation President Frank Newton.

“Scholarships like the one we announced today are vital,” said Jack Hopper, dean of the College of Engineering. “Thanks to the Layfield–TSUS Foundation Scholarship, countless young men and women will excel in engineering at Lamar University, graduate and become the leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs of tomorrow.”

Larry DeWayne Layfield graduated summa cum laude from Lamar with a degree in chemical engineering. The top male graduate in his class, he enrolled in the University of Texas School of Law, where he was elected to Chancellors, the most prestigious honor society, as well as the Order of the Coif, and served as editor in chief of The Texas Law Review. Layfield financed his law school education through a combination of summer work and a stipend paid for his service to The Texas Law Review.

After earning his law degree, he immediately began his clerkship with the Honorable Thomas Gibbs Gee, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He later began work on complex environmental and multi-plaintiff chemical exposure litigation for Vinson & Elkins in its Houston office. In 1994, he became senior litigation counsel to Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., a position he held until he began a private practice in 1997.

“Throughout my 40-plus years at Lamar, we have had a large number of exceptionally talented engineering students;” Hopper said, “however, without a doubt, DeWayne Layfield is one of the most scholarly and talented individuals to ever graduate from Lamar. It is very appropriate to have a scholarship endowed in his honor.”

An expert in the areas of civil litigation and class action/mass torts, Layfield was instrumental in the historic class action settlement against Toshiba Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Corp. In creating the perpetual scholarship in his name, Beaumont Foundation directors Wayne Reaud and Buddy Low sought to recognize Layfield’s outstanding contribution to the successful resolution of the landmark case.

In 2004, Layfield was named to the “Texas Super Lawyers” list representing the top five percent of attorneys in the state. He has recovered or assisted in the recovery of more than $1 billion in cash and more than $2 billion in cash and non-cash benefits for his clients. Layfield’s connections to Lamar go beyond his own to include the fact that his wife, Carol, also graduated with honors from Lamar, and that Carol’s son, Jason Cox, is pursuing a degree in electrical engineering. Their daughter, Savannah, began attending the Texas Academy of Leadership in the Humanities this fall.

“I’m very honored to have this scholarship have my name, and I am extremely grateful to the Beaumont Foundation of America and the TSUS Foundation for making funds available to create this scholarship,” Layfield said. “This scholarship will touch the lives of hundreds, perhaps thousands of students over the course of its future.

“Lamar was the only university I considered going to because I knew I would have to work while going to school,” Layfield said. “I was extremely happy with the education I received here.

“Twenty-five years ago, by coincidence, I had the opportunity to stand in this room because I got the Plummer award,” Layfield said. “I said then, in general, that I was so happy for the opportunity I had been given by the teachers and administrators at Lamar. It's a wonderful campus, a wonderful experience. The students at Lamar receive skills from the teachers, staff and administration that stand them in good stead to compete with anyone.

“I hope that the students of Lamar and the community will realize that Lamar does an excellent job,” Layfield said. “There is literally nothing you can’t do with an education from Lamar University.”

by Brian Sattler

October 2012