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what your investment in ut makes possible

mar./apr. 2012

How is your university changing the world? With help from donors like you, The University of Texas at Austin is tackling cancer, researching new diabetes treatments, developing technology for new fuels, addressing social issues, fostering the arts and humanities, and much more. The Campaign for Texas is our fundraising effort to increase UT’s quality, competitiveness, and impact. So far 27% of UT alumni have given to their area of passion during the campaign. Join us. Large or small, every gift matters.

Our goal is to be the best public university in the nation. Our mission is to change the world.

Make a gift to UT 866-4UTEXAS

changing the world What your investment in UT makes possible


cover: Springtime on campus credit:

Dave Mead

above: Thousands will participate in 10K and two-mile races at this year’s Longhorn Run. credit: Wallace World Wide

A family continues its giving tradition

BRINGING TOGETHER STUDENTS, BENEFACTORS Endowment donors and recipients share their UT bonds over dinner

LONGHORN RUN 2012 Join the herd April 14 to benefit student programs

UP TO THE CHALLENGE Chemist earns “Grand Challenges” support fighting tuberculosis reprinted from mar./apr. 2012

changing the world What your investment in UT makes possible

EXPANDING OPPORTUNITY AT HOME A Family Continues Its Giving Tradition


or Brownsville’s Nick and Viveca Serafy, giving to the University is about

more than improving its programs. It’s also about making those programs more accessible to area students who would not otherwise be able to take advantage of them. That’s why they support the Rio Grande Valley

Scholars Program. “We hope our gifts to UT help kids from the Rio Grande Valley fulfill their dream of becoming a Longhorn,” says Nick Serafy, BA ’78, Life Member.

Horns aplenty:

Nick and Viveca Serafy are flanked by sons Paul, Clayton, Jason, and Niko, standing, and daughters-in-law Lauren and Jenna.

credits: From left:

Serafy family photo; Marsha Miller; Callie Richmond (2)

8 | The

The Serafys continue a family tradition by directing their support through a foundation that was started by Nick’s late parents. His father, Nicholas T. Serafy, Sr., BA ’49, MA ’51, graduated from the University with the skills and resolve to establish a successful medical laboratory. His mother, Michigan graduate Jean Serafy, was a musician and educator who began her teaching career in 1946 at UT and went on to establish and chair Texas Southmost College’s music department.

Nicholas and Jean met in Austin, says Nick, and if not for the University, “a World War II veteran from the Rio Grande Valley probably would not have met a pianist from the Midwest — so I guess it would be safe to credit UT with more than my education.” While his parents pursued their careers in Brownsville, Nick expanded his horizons a few hundred miles north as a microbiology major on the Forty Acres. His student days included working for the University News and Information

Service when it was based in the Littlefield Carriage House. He relished the excitement of being at UT during running back Earl Campbell’s epic Heisman Trophy-winning season. But above all there are the fond memories of conducting research in the cramped but industrious spaces of the Experimental Science Building. That building has since been razed to make way for the Norman Hackerman Building, part of a block of cutting-edge facilities that includes the Moffett Molecular Biology Building, Neural Molecular Science Building, and recently renamed Larry R. Faulkner Nanoscience
and Technology Building. Today Nick is president and CEO of the business begun by his father, Proficiency Testing Service, Inc., which services about 26,000 laboratories in the U.S. and another 2,000 abroad. He is excited about the work being done in his discipline at UT, and, as new generations find their scientific calling each academic year, hopes some of them will arrive as Rio Grande Valley Scholars. “The identification of pathogens in the clinical laboratory is moving away from culture-based identification to molecular diagnostics,” he says. “The research that students are able to perform in these buildings should not only prepare them for molecular diagnostics; they may be involved in developing new techniques for identifying pathogens and other microorganisms.” While continuing the philanthropic work of the Serafy Foundation, Nick has stepped up his UT involvement in recent years as a member of the University Development Board. His and Viveca’s four sons attended other universities, but the first two, Niko and Paul, while not being Longhorns, at least married well — Jenna Vaughan, BS ’05, and Lauren Smith, BS ’08, respectively — and hope remains for the other two. “Jason and Clayton are not married yet, so there’s still a chance that they will also find UT graduates.”

The Rio Grande Valley Scholars Program

Campus Dinners Bring Together Students, Benefactors



lumni and friends have invested more than $150,000 in the Rio Grande Valley Scholars Program, toward an endowment goal of $600,000, to bring the Valley’s best students to UT. When completely funded, the endowment will support full scholarships for up to three students a year. In the meantime, the first scholar can be selected once the $200,000 threshold is reached. Several prominent young Texas Exes have helped lead the funding campaign, including Rio Grande Valley natives and former studentbody presidents Omar Ochoa, BA ’07, BBA ’07, MPA ’07, JD ’11, Life

Member, and Annie Holand Miller, BA ’99, JD ’04, Life Member. “The transition from leaving my family and close-knit McAllen community and stepping foot on the vast Forty Acres was a challenge at first,” says Miller. “But after I got settled, there was no place I would have rather been and it changed my life forever. This program will help bridge the gap between the Valley and the University, particularly for students and their families who never thought it possible to attend UT.” Learn more about the Rio Grande Valley Scholars Program at giving.

hen alumni and friends endow a scholarship or fellowship at the University, they are taking a leap of faith in a way, by expanding opportunities for students they haven’t met. That may be why events that bring students and their benefactors together are so appreciated by both groups. Students see that there are generous individuals behind the support they’ve received. For donors, who may be honoring someone special to them with their endowment — a parent, a teacher, a friend — meeting recipients can be a gratifying experience. The University began the Endowed Presidential Scholarship Program in 1973 to provide merit-based scholarship support to outstanding students, and a tradition was born when the first nine recipients gathered with their sponsors around UT President Lorene Rogers’ dining room table. The dinners for that program, which now also includes fellowships, have gotten Top: Electrical a little bigger since then — this year’s engineering major edition, on March 27, is at the AT&T Steven Fontinelle, Executive Education and Conference right, visits with Center — but donors, honorees, and Distinguished Alumni recipients of newly established and Teresa and Joe Long existing University-wide endowments at last year’s still come together each spring to learn Endowed Presidential about one another and share their UT Scholarship and bonds. Colleges and schools host their Fellowship Dinner. Bottom: Scholarship own events to recognize endowments donor Marty Kopra, established for their benefit. left, and education/

Learn more about endowing a biology major Jorge scholarship or fellowship at giving. Barajas at the pre-dinner reception.

s e p t e m b e r | o c t o b e r 2011


changing the world What your investment in UT makes possible

On Your Mark...Get Set... Run with a Herd of Longhorns April 14 to Benefit Student Programs Above: Following

the success of the last Longhorn Run, organizers of this year’s event hope to attract 3,000 participants to campus for 10K and two-mile races that will start and end in front of Gregory Gym. Opposite: Andy Ellington, the Wilson and Kathryn Fraser Research Professor in Biochemistry, is developing a simple, quick way to diagnose TB in the developing world. credits: Above: Wallace

World Wide (4); Opposite: Christina Murrey

10 | The


o o k i n g fo r a fu n , healthy way to s u pport the

U niversity


spring? UT’s Student Government and Recreational Sports have joined forces to organize the 2012 Longhorn Run, with proceeds benefiting

excellence endowments at both organizations.

The Student Government Endowed Excellence Fund helps equip student groups with tools to advance current projects or ideas, while promoting the ideals of giving and a spirit of service on campus. The Recreational Sports Divisional Endowment allocates resources to ensure that students have access to one of the highest-quality campus recreational programs in the nation. Both funds are focused squarely on improving the UT student experience. Student Government leaders draw on their excellence fund’s proceeds along with other funding sources to

support campus events and organizations that benefit society. “Last fall, the Excellence Fund Committee gave out about $8,000,” says Madison Gardner, a senior Business Honors/Spanish major and Student Government’s external financial director. “We plan on giving out another $12,000 this semester.” Last held in 2010, this edition of the Longhorn Run, on Saturday, April 14, will include a 10-kilometer race starting at 8 a.m. and a twomile course starting 15 minutes later. Both routes begin and end at 21st Street and Speedway, in

Chemist’s Work attracts ‘grand challenges’ support, Could Save Countless Lives


s home to many of the University’s top research faculty, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry produces some of the most exciting medical-science advances on campus. The latest potential innovation is a simple, fast, paper-based test for drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB). A scourge that has all but disappeared in most places, TB continues to rage in areas that lack the appropriate infrastructure, such as parts of Afghanistan and Africa. A quick, easy test is closer to becoming reality through the work of chemistry professor Andy Ellington, whose lab recently was awarded a $1.6 million diagnostics grant through Grand Challenges in Global Health, an initiative created by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Grand Challenges initiative seeks to engage creative minds across scientific disciplines to work on solutions that could lead to breakthrough advances for people in the developing world. New and improved diagnostics at the point of care can help health workers save lives in resource-poor communities. “It is critical to have a point-of-care, real-time test that fits the technology climate of the place where it is used,” says Ellington. “You have to do tests without refrigeration, and they need to be portable, cheap, and disposable. Essentially, they need to be what a home pregnancy test is. Our diagnostic would be like that but for TB.” Ellington’s goal is to develop a real-time

“A way for alumni of all ages to come

test using a small strip of paper, in contrast to conventional approaches that need several days to culture or require analysis in advanced laboratories. Unique to his approach is the use of “synthetic DNA” embedded in paper. The DNA will work much like an integrated circuit in electronics, but in this case the signal it will amplify will be the presence of TB bacteria in saliva. The ultimate goal is a DNA circuit that recognizes drug-resistant TB bacteria and produces a color easily seen by the naked eye. Appropriate interventions can then be made quickly for the patient and before the TB spreads further. “From our research and that of others, we know what all the parts are that will make this work,” Ellington says. “The problem we are working on now is making the circuit sensitive enough to the minute levels of TB bacteria in a normal sample and decreasing false positives.”

campaign update

together as part of the UT family and As of March 1, alumni and friends had made

show their Longhorn pride.”

824,870 gifts to the Campaign for Texas, front of Gregory Gym. Nike is a special partner for the event. Anyone can participate, and the campus will also host the annual 40 Acres Fest that day, a free event showcasing the creativity and diversity of more than 200 student organizations. Running enthusiasts are urged to come for the Longhorn Run and stay for the festival. The day’s events, says marketing major Sarah Classen, are “a way for alumni of all ages to come together as part of the UT family and show their Longhorn pride.” For more information on the run and to register, visit

contributing $1.86 billion toward the campaign’s $3 billion goal. The number of unique donors to the campaign is about 214,000 and climbing. More than a quarter of alumni — 27% — have

participated by making at least one gift, while

many have given multiple times. Of those alumni donors, 33% made their first gift during the campaign — a metric that bodes well for the University’s support base moving forward.

Changing the World is produced by the University Development Office. Please send your feedback and suggestions to editor Jamey Smith at For more news and information about giving to UT, visit

s e p t e m b e r | o c t o b e r 2011

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Changing the World (March-April 2012)  

What your investment in UT makes possible. Along with UT’s faculty, staff, and students, its alumni and friends are out there changing the w...