Texas Leader Spotlight

Alumni from the School of Architecture, McCombs School of Business and Jackson School of Geosciences share favorite UT memories and why they support the Forty Acres.
SusanBenz

Susan Benz
B.A. Architecture ’84

What are your favorite UT memories?

The collaboration between students and faculty was rich and abundant. It taught us how to work in a profession that relies on team effort. We worked hard, and the studio became the focus of our social lives as we helped one another, cared for and fed one another, and made midnight trips to Mrs. Johnson’s doughnut shop on Airport Boulevard.

How did UT prepare you for success?

I think the most important thing that the architecture curriculum teaches is to evaluate and criticize your own work and look at it in different ways. What is extraordinary is that I have applied these critical thinking skills to every aspect of my life, which has led to my success as the principal of a project management firm.

Why did you choose to include UT in your estate plans?

I have empathy for students who don’t have the financial resources to pay for their college education, so I want to pay it forward. I set up a scholarship for architecture students by designating UT as a beneficiary of my IRA. Establishing a planned gift is an easy way for people at any income level to make life better for others.

What impact do you want your gift to make?

I was able to attend UT Austin because of financial aid, and I hope that with this scholarship, someone feels supported like I did. UT’s architecture program is highly regarded nationally, and I hope that the school continues to be a game changer in the field for others, just as it was for me. The whole point of good design is to make people’s lives better in one way or another — whether it’s the building they live in, where they work or the park they play in. It makes the world a better place.

LuisRhi

Luis Pablo Rhi
BBA Finance ’98

What are your favorite UT memories?

UT was always the school that I wanted to attend. I am a Brownsville native and one of 120 students from my high school graduating class. When I came to UT, it opened my mind in terms of how big the world is beyond Brownsville. I enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the students hanging out on the Main Mall.

How did UT prepare you for success?

I came to UT knowing just a few people from my hometown. The McCombs School of Business helped me develop relationships with people from diverse backgrounds from all over the world, and some of those friendships I still cherish today. McCombs prepared me both academically and for life — and gave me confidence that I can do anything. It opened doors and led me to New York City, where I enjoyed a 20-year career on Wall Street.

Why did you choose to include UT in your estate plans?

Currently, my family has two endowments that are geared toward helping students from the Rio Grande Valley attend UT. After talking with my estate lawyers and the helpful folks at UT, I decided to designate the university as a beneficiary of my IRA to amplify the impact of these endowments.

What impact do you want your gift to make?

It upsets me to see UT lose kids — especially first-generation college kids from the Valley — to other universities that offer greater financial assistance. I want to support students from the Rio Grande Valley in their pursuit of a world-class education at UT. If students earn a place at McCombs, I don’t want financial concerns to be an obstacle. By further supporting our family’s endowments with a planned gift, we know the impact is forever.

EdDuncan

Ed Duncan
B.S. Geology ’79 and M.A. Geology ’87

What are your favorite UT memories?

When I took my first geology class at UT, I fell in love with so many aspects of geology. As a student, I became more focused after realizing how much my professors were investing in me. They were helping me become the best geologist — and the best person — I could be. That realization changed my college experience and changed my life. What hooked me were field trips to modern clastic environments — point bars, beaches and estuaries. Perhaps oddly, I found digging a trench from the swash zone to the dune line in the middle of summer to be ‘fun’ and thought, ‘Okay, this is where I want my career to live.’ Exploring for and producing oil and gas from clastic reservoirs is what I have done my entire professional life.

How did UT prepare you for success?

We credit our life of geological adventure to my UT education and the Jackson School of Geosciences. My professors were trailblazers in their fields. The Jackson School teaches a more holistic approach to geology, particularly in those areas applicable to the oil and gas industry. At the Jackson School, students are immersed in excellence. I love the investigative process of putting together a story from a collection of geologic puzzle pieces to find meaningful quantities of oil and gas. Importantly, we have always focused on minimizing the impact our actions have on the earth.

Why did you choose to include UT in your estate plans?

By establishing a gift in our estate plan, we hope the Jackson School will continue to attract world-class professors and top students. We also hope our support for the earth sciences will lead to more diversity and inclusion of people from underrepresented groups.

What impact do you want your gift to make?

The earth is being challenged, and earth scientists have a responsibility to help. We expect the best and brightest future geoscientists from the Jackson School to engage in problem solving at a societal level. Make a difference. Be the difference.

Get Started

When you include UT in your estate plan, you create global leaders, drive discovery and change the world. You also protect assets, provide for those you love and receive tax-wise benefits.

Texas Leader Magazine

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