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$15 million for law, nursing, undergraduate studies

Giving News

Joe Jamail

Joe Jamail makes a strong case in court, and also when he talks about the importance of giving to his alma mater. The 82-year-old Houston attorney and philanthropist, best known for winning an oil-industry lawsuit in 1985 that resulted in an $11 billion judgment — the largest ever upheld on appeal — has raised the bar once again at UT. A $15 million donation from Jamail, who holds bachelor’s and law degrees from the University, will benefit law, nursing, and undergraduate advising.

“I take great satisfaction in making this gift, because I know its value will be compounded many times over through the work produced by faculty and students,” he says. “That work is vital to the life and health of the state of Texas, and never before has support from the University’s alumni and friends been more important. I consider this gift an investment — the best and most lasting investment I could make.”

The School of Law gets $10 million of Jamail’s gift to create a faculty excellence fund supporting recruitment and retention. The School of Nursing will use $2.5 million for the same purpose plus fellowships for students seeking a doctorate. Undergraduate Studies will put $2.5 million into a program to advise prospective and first-year students on making wise choices of college and major. Jamail’s giving, and that of his wife Lee, who died last year, spans decades and has touched nearly every academic area, as well as the Texas Exes and UT Athletics.

The couple’s generosity has been recognized over the years with campus namings such as the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center, the Joseph D. Jamail Pavilion in the School of Law, the Joseph D. Jamail Center for Legal Research, and Joe Jamail Field at Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium. Now there is one more facility bearing the Jamail moniker. Main 212, the ornate, high-ceilinged Main Building room that was the meeting place for UT’s Board of Regents for many years and continues to host Faculty Council meetings and important announcements, has been designated the Lee Hage Jamail Academic Room. The space will undergo renovations soon to bring it back to its original luster.

Asked why he’s given so much of his fortune away — major recipients include the Texas Heart Institute and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, plus other universities and medical schools — Jamail says, “I just think it’s the decent thing to do. You know there are no vaults where I’m headed, up or down.”

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