When your own material needs are met, there’s a greater awareness of others who are not so fortunate. It just feels like an obligation to do something to help,” says Jim Taylor of Houston, who along with his wife, Gladys, has made several major gifts to support MIT’s Public Service Center.

“Public service at MIT is about doing something truly magnificent for the world,” he says. “It’s solving problems that may seem small and distant to us, but to the people who are suffering from them, they are immediate and critical. Each small act is a building block to build a better world for somebody else. I love that sense of giving back and making the world a better place.”

Taylor — who was raised in St. Louis, giving part of his allowance to the church — hopes that his legacy will be what he has done for others. He earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial management from MIT in 1965 and a master’s degree in management in 1967. For the next 38 years, he worked at Exxon Mobil Corporation, the world’s largest integrated oil company, where he served in human resources, specifically executive development and compensation. Over the years, he worked in Baton Rouge; Corpus Christi; New Orleans; New York; Stamford and Darien Ct.; and Houston. He and his wife were married in 1968 and have three children and nine grandchildren. Taylor says he hopes to pass on to them the spirit of sharing, adding that he believes that he has been blessed in life to be a blessing to others.

“I received so much directly and indirectly from MIT, and it just feels like a privilege to be able to return a portion of that so future students can enjoy the things that contributed to my own well-being and satisfaction in life.”

Long term, he hopes their gifts to MIT will generate “a spirit of generosity that just catches on and continues. I hope our gifts touch enough students so it becomes a network of young people who develop a practice and a joy of giving back. I hope they’ll carry that habit with them for the rest of their lives and even pass it on to their children.

“MIT students bring energy, talent, and a can-do attitude to public service,” he says. “Because there are thousands of MIT students involved, they can make a real difference. We just hope to be a little part of that.”