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Gift Supports Forty Acres Scholarship in Social Work

Giving News

Tom and Sally Dunning of Dallas

Tom and Sally Dunning want to help Texas meet its growing demand for well-educated, trained social workers.

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas M. Dunning of Dallas have given $100,000 to the Forty Acres Scholars Program to support students majoring in social work. The Forty Acres Scholarship is a new merit-based, full-ride scholarship created by the Texas Exes to recruit and recognize exceptional students, enriching their lives and nurturing their development as future leaders.

Tom Dunning, BBA ’65, is chairman emeritus of Lockton Dunning Benefits and serves on the boards of American Beacon Funds, BancTec Inc, and Oncor Electric Delivery Company, where he is the lead director. At UT he serves on the School of Social Work Capital Campaign Committee, the Development Board, and the Chancellor’s Council Executive Committee.

“UT leaders have instituted the Forty Acres Scholarship to attract outstanding high school scholars to the University,” Dunning says. “So Sally and I wanted to set up a Forty Acres Scholarship for a student entering the School of Social Work because we believe one of the greatest needs in the state of Texas for the next 50 years will be well-educated, trained social workers.”

The Dunnings know firsthand the positive impact social workers make in people’s lives. As adoptive parents, they first met social workers some 35 years ago at the Gladney Center for Adoption in Fort Worth. “We were impressed with the social workers we met during and after the adoption of our daughter,” says Tom. Sally became very involved with Gladney, serving as chairman of the board and co-chairing its campaign to build a new campus.

Tom worked with many dedicated social workers when appointed by Texas governors to the boards of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, which oversees the state prisons, and the Texas Department of Human Services, which oversees many state agencies that employ social workers. As a member of the Salesmanship Club of Dallas he has seen the positive impact made by the Salesmanship Club Youth and Family Centers counselors, many of whom are social workers and graduates of the School of Social Work.

In November 2010 the Texas Exes Dallas Chapter honored Tom for his many years of service in leadership positions with Dallas boards, civic organizations, and nonprofits. In 1987 when Dallas was facing a major racial crisis, Mayor Annette Strauss asked Dunning to form “Dallas Together” and serve as its first chair. Mayor Ron Kirk asked Dunning to chair the DFW International Airport Board and to firmly establish the Universities Center in Downtown Dallas that would give Dallasites an opportunity to attend and obtain a bachelor’s degree from a state university in Dallas.

In 2004 President George W. Bush asked mayors from large cities to join him in a 10-year plan to end chronic homelessness by appointing a homeless czar. Mayor Laura Miller asked Dunning to be Dallas’ first homeless czar and to form a committee to determine where a new homeless assistance center, The Bridge, should be located.

“I became good friends with the city of Dallas social worker who was our consultant on The Bridge project,” says Dunning. “Her understanding of the chronic homeless and what they went through every day helped us to determine where The Bridge should be built and the services to be provided.”

Sally also has been a leader in the Dallas community. Currently she is a member of the board of the Dallas Women’s Foundation and Planned Parenthood of North Texas. She is a past chair of the board at Greenhill School and served as chair of the school’s capital campaign.

Many additional honors have been bestowed on Tom Dunning including perhaps Dallas’ most prestigious, the LINZ Award. Recently he was elected to the Dallas Business Hall of Fame and is a recipient of the Anti-Defamation League Humanitarian Award, the Volunteer Centers Servant Leader Award, the American Jewish Committee Institute of Human Relations Award, and the Natural Leader Award from the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Dallas. He also has served as chairman of the Dallas Citizens Council, an organization of the leading CEOs in Dallas.

Texas Exes has offered the first Forty Acres Scholarships to the fall 2011 entering class. Forty Acres Scholars will receive funding for tuition and mandatory fees, housing and food, books, a living stipend, and additional funding for enrichment activities. Students will be funded for four years of undergraduate work provided they maintain excellent academic progress each year. The long-term goal of the program is to give out 75 awards per year — creating a diverse cohort that represents all colleges and schools at the University—with 300 scholars on campus at any given time.

“Having a prestigious Forty Acres Scholarship in the School of Social Work will provide our top students with a transformative undergraduate experience that will nurture their educational and personal development and provide expanded opportunities for leadership, community service, and study abroad, as they prepare for effective professional practice in Texas,” says School of Social Work Dean Barbara W. White.

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