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Perfect Match: How a Family of UT Alums Is Helping Students

Giving News

By Tod Francis

For Al Hagedorn, BS ’61, PhD ’64, and his daughter Karen, BS ’86, giving to the University has been something of a family custom. Both father and daughter earned petroleum engineering degrees. (Karen has an MS and PhD in the same field from Stanford.) Both have established endowments at UT along with Al’s wife, Doris, and other daughter, Deanna Kanady, BBA ’86. Like the entire Hagedorn family, Al and Karen are Texas Exes Life Members. And the two share one other important attribute: they’re members of the ExxonMobil family, a link that has helped them significantly enhance what they can do to support their alma mater.

Al knows firsthand how financial assistance can help transform a student’s life. “I had no plans to go to college because my family couldn’t afford it,” he says. Instead he worked a few years after high school before joining the Air Force. Al returned home after his military service and enrolled at UT with the assistance of the GI Bill. Additionally, he had help from small scholarships throughout his undergraduate career. He was able to continue his graduate education with the aid of a three-year Ford Education Foundation Fellowship.

Doris, Al, Karen, and Deanna Hagedorn

A burnt orange family: Doris, Al, Karen, and Deanna Hagedorn show their Longhorn spirit at one of their tailgate parties.

In 1964 ExxonMobil (then Humble Oil and Refining Company) hired Al directly out of college, and he remained there until he and Doris retired to the Austin area in 1992, the same year Karen joined ExxonMobil. Al and Karen have made use of the company’s matching program to become life members of the Cockrell School of Engineering’s Friends of Alec annual giving program and to help fund several endowments. The first, in 1991, was the Hagedorn Endowed Graduate Fellowship in Engineering, when the Hagedorns’ gifts were matched not only 3-to-1 by ExxonMobil, but also 2-to-1 by an unnamed benefactor as part of the Thrust 2000 Graduate Fellowship initiative. “This was an opportunity that was just too good not to take advantage of,” Al says. “And it was a great way for us to give back to UT for the help we received as students.”

In 2003 Karen established the Karen D. Hagedorn Endowment to benefit the Women in Engineering Program. “I was interested in supporting something that was consistent with my objectives and values,” says Karen, who remembers the scarcity of female students in her graduating class. “I recognized that some mentorship was important for women in the engineering profession.”

In 2006 the Hagedorn family joined forces again to promote the creation of an endowment dear to their hearts, the Frank Ludwig Weisser Memorial Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Engineering, in memory of Doris’ grandfather. A 1911 electrical engineering graduate, Weisser started the family’s long UT tradition. “The scholarship was a gift to my grandmother, who had her father’s diploma on her wall,” Karen says. When the scholarship was created, the family received a plaque that her grandmother placed on the wall next to the diploma. Both remained there until she recently passed away.

The Hagedorns recognize the impact the ExxonMobil matching program has had on their ability to give back to the University. “At first the 3-to-1 match is a great way for employees to feel that their smaller gift is going a lot further,” Karen says. “Down the line the match gives you the opportunity to create these more tangible endowments — something where you can see the difference it makes in a specific student’s life. It makes me feel good to know there’s someone out there who is benefiting from it — just as I benefited from the support I received as a student.”

“I came from a humble beginning, and I worked hard to get through my college years,” Al says. “UT did a lot for me — it changed my standard of living and helped me get to the point where I could give back. And ExxonMobil made that a lot easier.”

Many companies match employee and retiree contributions to UT. Find out if yours is one of them at matchinggifts.com/utexas.

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