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Courtyard of the Sarah M. and Charles E. Seay Building

Charles and Sarah SeayNearly 70 years ago, Charlie and Sadie Seay met on the UT campus at a Friday afternoon dance. He was in business school; she was studying journalism. From that day forward, the couple built — and continues to build — an impressive record of achievement in public service. Their roster of humanitarian causes includes children, medicine, animals, and the arts, as well as the renovation and beautification of historic places. One of the newest and most tangible manifestations of their generosity is the Sarah M. and Charles E. Seay Building, the home of the College of Liberal Arts Department of Psychology and the College of Natural Sciences Division of Human Development and Family Sciences.

If one word could best describe the Seay Building, it might be synthesis — a combination of elements to form a whole. Over a period of several years, representatives of the building’s principal occupants — faculty, students, and administrators — brought their perspectives to each step of the design process.

The Seay Building blends naturally with the Spanish and Mediterranean architectural style of the inner campus. To harmonize with the ambience created on the original Forty Acres by celebrated early 20th-century architects Cass Gilbert and Paul Cret, architects Cesar Pelli & Associates balanced the traditional limestone and tile of UT’s past with contemporary flourishes throughout. In a blend of spaces, textures, and colors, the building offers everything expected of a modern university structure: state-of-the-art classrooms, well-furnished seminar rooms, extensive laboratory and clinical facilities, and ample office space for faculty and staff. Each of these elements is conducive to meaningful collaboration among students and faculty both within and between Psychology and Human Development & Family Sciences. Providing a single home for these academic areas — which were formerly spread across the campus in 11 separate buildings — is a major step forward in their complementary quests to understand human behavior.

In addition to Charlie and Sadie, whose $5 million lead gift launched the project and gave it early momentum, a number of individuals, foundations, and corporate partners also helped make the building a reality.

Elsewhere at the University, Charlie and Sadie have funded chairs in finance and business administration and contributed to numerous other departments and projects. What is it that drives their UT philanthropy? Says Charlie, a 1936 graduate, “The University of Texas has meant everything to Sadie and me. Any success we have had we owe to UT. Now we are giving something back.”

The Seay Building serves as a visually appealing and highly functional home for both the Department of Psychology and HDFS. In a comfortable, well-equipped, and thoroughly modern setting, faculty and students have the tools at their disposal to make important and potentially life-changing advances in understanding human behavior.

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