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The Campaign for Texas: Looking Back, Pushing Forward

Giving News

The University of Texas at Austin campus photo

The Campaign for Texas is a major undertaking, a campuswide effort to increase UT’s quality, competitiveness, and impact across the board. Gifts to the campaign are targeted at attracting and keeping first-rate faculty, creating new opportunities for talented students, boosting research and academic programs across all disciplines, and enhancing facilities on the University’s beautiful campus.

So far, so good. While it will take much more progress to reach the principal goal of making UT the best public research university in the nation, alumni and friends have responded enthusiastically to the campaign message, contributing $1.7 billion toward the $3 billion goal. This midway point is a time to celebrate the immense impact the campaign is already having, even as we keep our eyes on the horizon. The victories in educating our future citizens and leaders … the advances in scientific and medical research … the contributions to social sciences, and to arts and humanities … the list goes on.

88 percent of gifts are less than $1,000.Since the campaign began, more than 750,000 unique gifts have come in, including some 640,000 outright gifts, 115,000 pledges, and 600 planned gifts. The collective message is loud and clear: the world needs Texas, and Texas needs our support.

As the Campaign for Texas marches on, the University’s journey continues as well. Together we are helping to bolster wide-ranging and important research, which generates new technologies and know-how to strengthen the Texas economy. This kind of work has a measureable payoff — every dollar invested in the University returns $18 in benefits to the people of Texas. And we’re giving the nation and world the state’s best export, one that only grows in value each year: UT graduates.

With so much at stake in this campaign, even greater possibilities lie ahead. Much more work remains to elevate the University’s quality and national standing. But for now, we offer a look back at a few of the highlights thus far. This is in no way meant to be a complete list of gifts received, but is an illustration of the range of support and how it is being put to work.

Ernest and Sarah Butler celebrate their music school gift of $55 million, the largest so far.

Ernest and Sarah Butler celebrate their music school gift of $55 million, the largest so far.

While the vast majority — 88 percent — of gifts are less than $1000, each of the campaign priorities has garnered some key major gifts. The School of Music was named for Austin’s Ernest and Sarah Butler following the couple’s support of faculty, students, and programs with a transformational gift of $55 million, the largest gift to a music school at a public university. Joe Jamail, of Houston, made a $15 million gift to three areas he cares deeply about: $12.5 million to benefit law and nursing, plus $2.5 million to significantly boost academic advising for prospective and first-year students. The Law School also received $5 million from Houston’s Stephen Susman to help the school meet its highest priority needs.

In the College of Communication, Dallas’ Belo Foundation, Robert W. and Maureen Decherd, the estate of James M. Moroney Jr., and the Moroney family donated $15 million to establish the Belo Center for New Media. Construction is under way on this facility, which will wed cutting-edge technology with innovative teaching methods. The late Texas Gov. Dolph Briscoe, of Uvalde, gave $15 million to the Center for American History, a gift that capped decades of helpful involvement and support, and the center now bears his name in grateful recognition.

Scientists at the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences (ICES) create visual models of storm surges, like this one of Hurricane Katrina.

Scientists at the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences (ICES) create visual models of storm surges, like this one of Hurricane Katrina.

Fort Worth philanthropist W.A. “Tex” Moncrief gave $18 million, which was combined with an $18 million match from an anonymous donor to create a fellowship endowment in simulation-based engineering sciences to at ICES. The fund will enable UT to scientifically tackle some of the grand challenges facing the nation and the world today. Also computer related, one of the nation’s leading computer science departments, in the College of Natural Sciences, is closer to having a state-of-the-art home, thanks to a $30 million challenge grant from the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and $10 million from Austin’s Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. The two-building complex, rising now on the Speedway pedestrian mall, will bring the entire department together for the first time.

Across the East Mall and next to the new Student Activity Center, the College of Liberal Arts will soon have a new six-story building, including an entire floor for UT’s ROTC units, thanks in part to $15 million from James and Miriam Mulva of Houston. The McCombs School of Business now has the AT&T Executive Education & Conference Center, named in honor of AT&T’s $25 million contribution, as a convenient home for its executive MBA and corporate training programs. A $16 million planned-gift commitment from Austin’s Beverly and Will O’Hara will support student and faculty endowments in McCombs’ Business Honors Program and number one-ranked Department of Accounting.

Despite the noteworthy size and impact of all of those gifts, collectively they make up only about 15 percent of the campaign total to date. Perhaps even more significant, in terms of participation, 39 percent of all alumni gifts to the campaign have come from first-time donors.

To contribute to the Campaign for Texas, choose your area of passion and make your gift online today.

Make a gift to UT.

Last fall, more than 2,000 students participated in Thanks Day — a chance for students to acknowledge parents, alumni and friends, faculty, staff, taxpayers, legislators, and everyone else who makes a UT education possible.

Last fall, more than 2,000 students participated in Thanks Day — a chance for students to acknowledge parents, alumni and friends, faculty, staff, taxpayers, legislators, and everyone else who makes a UT education possible. Thanks Day 2011 is Nov. 16.

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