Texas Leader Spotlight

Meet University of Texas at Austin alumni and friends who are changing the world through philanthropy and careful estate planning.
photo of Carolyn Long

Carolyn Long

Austin, TX

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

As a longtime volunteer and supporter of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, I’m incredibly excited about the University embracing it as one of its field stations. Over the past 30 years of being involved with the center in various volunteer positions, I have gained a great deal of respect for the educational resources it provides visitors to help them better understand the ecosystems in their own backyards. Their educational programs, state-of-the-art learning resources, immersive exhibits and advanced research initiatives are unlike any other botanical garden’s. I love the place and have a deep-seated appreciation for all the wonderful work they’re doing, so the decision to get involved philanthropically through a planned gift was easy and felt like a natural step for me.

What impact do you want your gift to make?

My goal is to help visitors gain confidence in their interactions with the natural world and share that passion with others. I hope my planned gift can help provide resources to improve the Wildflower Center’s visitor experience and help strengthen everyone’s interest and ability to preserve natural landscapes at the ground level. It’s like the UT tagline: “What starts here changes the world.”

photo of Linda Holcomb

Linda Holcomb, B.A. History ’81

Humble, TX

What are your favorite UT memories?

I spent most of my years at UT in the late ’60s and early ’70s, so it was a very lively time with a lot going on. Even though I didn’t belong to a lot of organizations, I met a lot of people and I was involved in activities we did together. I made really close friends I still have today.

How did UT prepare you for success?

My professors taught me to think. As young adults, we believe we know how to do that, but in truth we grow up thinking the way our parents and community taught us to. I learned that just because authority thinks one way doesn’t mean I have to think the same way. UT gave me the skills to assess my beliefs and to keep an open mind. I hope that through my career as a supervisor and a professor, I have passed on those valuable skills to other people.

Why did you choose to make a gift to UT?

The education I received at UT was extremely valuable. I want to give back because I’m very grateful for having gone to school there and for all the ideas and opportunities I was exposed to, both in and out of the classroom. All the people I met there — professors, students, just everybody — were wonderful, and it was a very good experience for me.

What impact do you want your gift to make?

My charitable gift annuity supports Student Emergency Services. Some students have no safety net, and if something goes wrong, they may be without financial resources to help them meet that emergency. I want to help these students so they won’t have additional debt to deal with when they graduate. I hope my gift will allow students who are facing an unexpected crisis to stay in school and continue on their path.

photo of Dixie and Phil Stanforth

Dixie Stanforth, Ph.D. ’10 & Phil Stanforth

Dallas, TX

What are your favorite UT memories?

Phil: One of my favorite things about being a professor at UT was the whole idea of collaborating with other people and building a community that helps you learn and grow both professionally and as a person.

Dixie: My biggest takeaway from graduate school was to do everything with excellence and nothing will be wasted. On my last day of teaching a class with a particular cohort of UT students, I had put Post-it notes around the room with different questions. One of the notes asked, “If you were going to get a tattoo of something you’ve learned, what would it be?” And the most common response was “Do everything with excellence.” And that just meant the absolute world to me.

How did UT prepare you for success?

UT has given us the freedom as faculty members to develop a curriculum that emphasizes experiential learning, which is very rare at a Tier 1 institution. The programs at UT offer students the opportunities and resources to better prepare them, both on and off campus, in ways that many other programs can’t.

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

We have so much to be grateful for and the University is a huge part of that. Through our professional opportunities, we got to know thousands of students. This gift to support the College of Education is our way of expressing gratitude to the students that have always been at the center of our careers.

What impact do you want your gift to make?

During our tenure at UT, we witnessed firsthand the many challenges first-generation students and students from small towns face. We want to offer support to those who have the drive and passion to do well but may not have the financial means to take on an unpaid internship. We hope our gifts today and our planned gift to establish the Phil and Dixie Stanforth Endowed Excellence Fund will benefit students now and long after we’re gone.

Increase Your Impact

When you document a planned gift through a Legacy Challenge, you can unlock immediate additional funds for a participating college or school — and choose which area those funds will support.

Texas Leader Magazine

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