On the day Katie Couric made her highly publicized debut as his permanent successor, former CBS Evening News anchorman Dan Rather made news with Sam Houston State University announcing Rather had donated $2 million to his old school.

It’s the largest single monetary gift in the school’s 127-year history.

“So many people, known and unknown, helped me to get through Sam Houston State when I was there, desperately trying to make it, that I’ve always wanted to give back — some how, some way — to the best of my ability,” Rather said Tuesday in a statement released by the university, which was known as Sam Houston State Teachers College when he attended.

Rather, a Houston native, earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1953 at the school about 75 miles north of where he grew up.

The donation, made in the names of Rather and his wife, Jean, has been designated for scholarships and discretionary spending in the school’s communications program.

“The gift from Dan Rather and his family is a milestone in Sam Houston State’s history,” SHSU President James Gaertner said. “It is safe to say that many lives will be changed for the better because of this example of great generosity. We sincerely appreciate Mr. Rather’s thoughtfulness, and his obvious affection for Sam Houston State.”

It’s not the first gift Rather has made to his old school, where the communications building carries his name. He previously established scholarships and supported other programs, including the library, alumni relations and the university’s honors program.

He’s also filmed promotional materials and met with students and classes. Annually, three Sam Houston students interned for a semester at CBS News in New York.

“We’ve long had an acute sense of how lucky and blessed we have been as a family,” Rather said. “And for so long, we had had this longing to give something back to Sam Houston.

“In the great scheme of things, anything we could contribute wouldn’t be a whole lot. But what we could do, we wanted to do, and we wanted to do it at a time when the need seemed to be the greatest. We eventually concluded that the time was now. We wish we could do more.”

Rather stepped down as CBS anchor in March 2005. He is joining HDNet, a small network for owners of high-definition sets, to do a news show this fall.

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