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Planned Gifts Fund Campus Landmarks — and More

Giving News

Old Main and Littlefield Fountain

Before the Tower, the old Main Building stood north of Littlefield Fountain. Major George W. Littlefield left $250,000 in trust to erect the fountain in 1933.

Without Planned Gifts UT Would Be a Shadow of its Present Self

Imagine The University of Texas at Austin without the Tower. Now remove the following from campus: the Littlefield Home, Littlefield Fountain, Jackson School of Geosciences, and Etter-Harbin Alumni Center. Then pluck McDonald Observatory from the Davis Mountains of West Texas. While you’re at it, erase dozens of professors and thousands of students. That’s what UT would be without planned gifts.

Thankfully, we don’t have to picture UT without these. Instead, let’s take a look at how planned giving has helped UT evolve through the years.

The Beginning

On a crisp November morning in 1882, the cornerstone of the first Main Building was laid on a barren 40-acre tract of land known as College Hill. The goal: to build a university of the first class.

The University of Texas opened the following year with one building, eight professors, and 218 students. For legislators and educators it was a dream fulfilled.

From there, the university grew rapidly thanks to gifts from donors.

A Philanthropic Rivalry

Tower Sketch

Architectural sketch of the UT Tower. UT leaders used part of George Littlefield's $1 million bequest to fund construction.

Thanks to a philanthropic rivalry, two donors in particular, George Washington Littlefield and George Washington Brackenridge, helped shape the UT we know today.

Brackenridge’s first major gift to UT was $18,000 to build the first men’s dormitory on campus. That was in 1890.

Not to be outdone, Littlefield answered with a $25,000 gift to establish a collection of Southern history.

This back-and-forth giving pattern characterized the pair’s UT philanthropy for the remainder of their lives.

It peaked in 1910 when Brackenridge donated 500 acres along the Colorado River, where he hoped to see the campus relocated.

Littlefield opposed the move and left more than $1 million to UT in his estate plan — provided the campus stayed where it was.

The campus stayed put.

UT leaders used the bequest to partially fund the construction of the now iconic UT Tower to serve with the Main Building as a library to advance scholarship and research.

Planned Gifts Shaped UT into a World-Class University

Planned or future gifts — gifts made as part of one’s estate planning — have transformed The University of Texas at Austin into one of the nation’s and world’s premier institutions of higher learning. They have changed the physical face of the university, educated students, helped recruit brilliant faculty members, and fostered groundbreaking discoveries.

McDonald Observatory

William Johnson McDonald's bequest built the then-unnamed Otto Struve Telescope, housed at McDonald Observatory in West Texas. Dedicated on May 5, 1939, at that time it was the second largest telescope in the world.

In 1926, William Johnson McDonald left a $1.2 million bequest in his will to create an astronomical observatory. Today, McDonald Observatory is one of the world’s leading centers for astronomical research, teaching, and public education.

Without planned gifts, UT would even sound different. The 56-bell Kniker Carillon, the largest carillon in Texas, was funded by a bequest.

Private philanthropy matters. Every year alumni and friends give generously to keep UT among the world’s premier public research universities.

Case in point: 2011-12, during which 2,566 scholarship awards were made as the result of planned gifts. Without planned gifts, there would have been 40 fewer faculty chairs and 31 fewer professorships last year.

A World of Possibilities

No matter your circumstances, there’s a way to give and still meet your family’s needs. You can make a planned gift by leaving a bequest in your will or trust, naming the university the beneficiary of your retirement plan or life insurance policy, or by creating a gift that increases your income. You can make a gift now that saves your heirs estate taxes later. You can even give your home — and continue to live there.

How to Get Involved

Our Gift Planning team works with you and your advisers in confidence and without obligation. Contact us to learn more:

P.O. Box 7458
Austin, TX 78713
866-488-3927 (toll free)

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