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The art of philanthropy

Giving News

By Angela Curtis

Julius and Suzan GlickmanIt was a blind date of questionable first impressions. She brought her parents. He was an hour late. Both had their reasons.

“Anybody can go on a blind date,” she says. “Mother and Daddy didn’t want me going out with just anybody.”

And you could hardly blame him for being late. What Houstonian could miss the end of the basketball grudge match that pitted UCLA and Lew Alcindor (who later became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) against the University of Houston and Elvin Hayes?

“He called to say he was running late, and I just about said, ‘Then let’s forget it,’” she recalls. But she didn’t, and the Game of the Century (which Houston won by two points) was followed by what might have been the Date of the Century — rocky start notwithstanding.

“We stayed up almost all night talking,” she says. “His roommate got up the next morning and said, ‘You’re going to marry that girl.’ And five months later, he did.”

That was 39 years ago. Today University of Texas alumni Julius (’62, ’66) and Suzan Glickman (’64) have two children and three grandchildren. He’s a prominent Houston attorney, born “in a little place called Big Spring.” She’s an active community volunteer and former elementary school teacher, born in Fort Worth. Both are philanthropists, art collectors, and UT supporters.

“The University of Texas transforms lives,” Julius says. “It did mine.” “We give a lot to other worthy causes, but I want to give back to the University if I can,” adds Suzan. The couple’s gifts to the University reflect their own experiences here. They’ve given to education, law, Plan II, and the Blanton Museum of Art, among others.

Suzan didn’t have to wait any longer than her first year of teaching to see how well her Texas education had served her. All it took was a visit from an out-of-town supervisor.

“She walked in my classroom, looked around, and said, ‘You graduated from The University of Texas, didn’t you?’ I said, ‘Yes, how did you know?’ She said, ‘I can tell by what you have around the classroom.’ ”

As for Julius, his Plan II degree was pivotal. He describes the honors program as “what education is all about.” One of his most life-altering experiences at the University happened by chance. While visiting a gallery, he saw a painting by Robert Wood and an art lover was born. “That’s the first painting I remember that I really wanted to get,” he recalls.

The $3,500 price tag was beyond his means, but it started something. The couple began collecting paintings together a few years into their marriage. They also became patrons of the arts. “Art is something that really is everybody’s,” says Julius. “You get excited, not only for yourself but for others, too.” Thus was born a recent double gift to UT’s Blanton Museum of Art. The new facility’s Prints and Drawings Galleries are named for the Glickmans in recognition of their bequest and charitable remainder annuity trust.

Giving is an important part of the family ethic. When their children were young the couple half-jokingly told son Clark (’95) and daughter Jennifer that their inheritance was going to The University of Texas. That was a bit of a stretch, but the subtext was clear: You’ll have to make your own way in life, and this is a family that values giving.

Now a third generation is getting the message. Whenever the Glickmans’ two oldest grandchildren, 4-year-old Carter and 6-year-old Austin, are given money, their mother, Michelle, splits it into three parts: some to spend, some to save, and some to give to a cause of the boys’ choosing. “We’ve started at a very early age,” Suzan says. “They’re already beginning to have a concept of giving back to help others who don’t have as much — in a form that they can understand.”

Philanthropy benefits the giver as much as the recipient, Julius says. “You feel good about what you’re doing. That’s important. You feel as if you’re leaving something behind.”

That philosophy has guided him in his career, too. As a lawyer he has represented a variety of clients, from big corporations to employees wrongly terminated. He likes standing up for the little guy. “You’ve got to feel good about what you’re doing,” he says. “It’s one thing to make a living; it’s another thing to make a life. Part of giving is about making a life for yourself.”

His soft spot for the little guy fuels his belief in public education and in the University. He wants others to have the same chances he did.

“We can’t afford to privatize higher education in this country because that would mean only the very rich would get an education,” he says. “It would mean people from Big Spring wouldn’t get a chance to go to The University of Texas.”

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