TISHOMINGO, Okla. (KTEN) – A $1 million donation from a Murray State alum will help the school keep producing work-ready students.

It’s the biggest gift Murray State has ever seen.

Thomas Barnett was a graduate of MSC's class of 1955. He spent two years at the school before heading to Oklahoma City.

“Completely unexpected gift, and the only restriction was he wanted us to use it to help people who needed it,” said MSC president Dr. Tim Faltyn.

Barnett went on to become the owner of an oilfield services firm. He died late last year.

Aside from athletics, Barnett enjoyed arts and sciences, so some of that money will head to that department.

“Murray is committed to workforce development and economic development for our region,” Faltyn said. “It’s difficult to nail down the numbers to the exact student, but we anticipate around 70 percent of our students stay in this region.”

Murray State has been training students for the real world for quite some time now, and this donation will keep that program rolling.

“For every dollar that’s invested in us, we produce about a $10 return on that investment,” Faltyn said.

NitroLift, headquartered in Ravia, sees the benefit of this program.

“We’ve only got one CAD designer and he’s very experienced, so we're using this program to try to add another guy in that role to have a second one,” NitroLift COO John Beaver said.

Not only does Barnett's donation help students, educators, and companies, but the local economy benefits as well.

“NitroLift owns NitroLift Fabrications, which manufactures oil field vessels. And then our core business is nitrogen services, so we do a lot of nitrogen work for refineries, oil work, chemical plants, all that sort of thing,” Beaver said.

Michelin in Ardmore also takes on quite a few MSC students, and the tire-maker says they're grateful to give back to the community and economy.