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The Hagedorn Family and ExxonMobil: A Perfect Match for UT Austin

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The Hagedorn family at one of their tailgate parties. From right to left: Deanna, Karen, Al, and Doris.

The Hagedorn family at one of their tailgate parties. From left to right: Doris, Al, Karen, and Deanna.

For Al Hagedorn and his daughter Karen, supporting The University of Texas at Austin has been a family affair. Both father and daughter are part of the UT alumni family – Al earned his B.S. in 1961 and his Ph.D. in 1964, both in petroleum engineering, and Karen earned her B.S. in 1986, also in petroleum engineering. (Karen continued her education at Stanford, where she earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in petroleum engineering as well.) Both have established endowments at UT with the support of additional family members, including Al’s older daughter and Karen’s sister, Deanna Kanady, BBA 1986. And Al and Karen are both members of the ExxonMobil family, an association that has helped the Hagedorns significantly enhance their support of UT.

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.

In 1964, Al was hired by ExxonMobil (then Humble Oil and Refining Company) directly out of college, and he remained there until his retirement in 1992. Karen joined ExxonMobil in 1992. They have both taken advantage of ExxonMobil’s 3:1 matching program to become lifetime members of Friends of Alec and to help fund several endowments. The first endowment — a Thrust 2000 Graduate Fellowship in Engineering — benefited from an unnamed benefactor’s 2:1 match which meant that with the ExxonMobil match Al, his wife, Doris, and Karen had to donate just $8,000. “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 females 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 Karen’s great-grandfather on her mother’s side of the family. A 1911 electrical engineering graduate, Frank Weisser started the long tradition of UT graduates in the family. “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 where both remained until she recently passed away.

The Hagedorns recognize the impact that the ExxonMobil matching program has had on their ability to give back to the University. “At first the 3:1 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 benefitting from it — just as I benefitted 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.”

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