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what your investment in ut makes possible

mar/apr 2013


changing the world What your investment in UT makes possible

Contents DEFYING GRAVITY Karl Gebhardt addresses big issues in his work—big, as in galactic


Cover: Completed in 1937, the UT Tower was funded in

part by a bequest of George Washington Littlefield. The Tower is one of many iconic buildings that owe their existence to the generosity of planned-gift donors. credit: Alexander Architectural Archive

Above: Herman and Joan Suit visit the telescope atop Robert Lee Moore Hall on the University’s campus. The couple has funded a professorship in astronomy, one of their passions. credit: Michael O’Brien

William P. Clements, Jr. Center for History, Strategy, and Statecraft

UT WITHOUT PLANNED GIFTS? Without them, the Forty Acres would be a shadow of its present self

MAIDIE RYAN’S COMMITMENT A young alumna supports her alma mater with a future gift reprinted from mar/apr 2013

changing the world What your investment in UT makes possible


Astronomical anomalies and mysterious forces are all in a day’s work for a UT astrophysicist



G ebhardt

addresses some big issues in his work .

B ig ,

as in

galactic. Most of his career has focused on understanding the role that black holes play in the formation of a galaxy. Gebhardt, the Herman and Joan Suit Professor of Astrophysics in the Department of Astron-

omy, made international headlines recently with the discovery of the largest known black hole in the universe—a behemoth that’s 17 billion times heavier than the Sun.

Above: Astrophysicist Karl Gebhardt has discovered the largest known black hole; Herman and Joan Suit want to encourage young people to share their love of science. Opposite: Gov. Bill Clements speaks at the Capitol in 1990 as UT President William Cunningham looks on. credits: Marsha Miller;

Michael O’Brien; Larry Murphy

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He and his colleagues found the unusual black hole, which makes up 14 percent of its galaxy’s mass rather than the usual 0.1 percent, using the Hobby-Eberly Telescope at McDonald Observatory. It’s the third time UT scientists and equipment have discovered what at the time was the largest known black hole. “This is a really oddball galaxy,” says Gebhardt. “It’s almost all black hole. This could be the first object in a new class of galaxy-black hole systems.” When he’s not discovering black holes, Gebhardt is also helping lead a new scientific

revolution: the quest to understand dark energy, a mysterious force that makes up 70 percent of the matter and energy in the universe. Somehow, dark energy is defying what we think we know about gravity—instead of slowing down as it expands ever outward, the universe appears to be speeding up. Dark energy can be thought of as our ignorance of what’s going on in the universe, Gebhardt says. “We think we have an idea of how the universe is supposed to expand,” he says, but when the expansion rate is measured given those assump-

HISTORY CALLING A gift helps promote diplomacy and security while honoring the legacy of a Texas governor


tions, things don’t add up. “It’s actually expanding faster than we think it should be. And that is what we call dark energy. What I always like to say is it’s only a phrase. Don’t get hung up on the word ‘dark,’ or on ‘energy.’ The solution of what it is may not be dark, and it may not be energy.” What it is, in other words, is an unanswered question. The McDonald Observatory initiative, called the HobbyEberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment (HETDEX), is the first major effort to answer that question. By revealing new details about the Big Bang, HETDEX will probe dark energy and tell us whether the laws of gravity are correct or if they need to be amended. Even as he helps unravel the mysteries of the universe, Gebhardt works every day with undergraduate and graduate students. Funds from his professorship help him to involve students in all levels of his research. That is welcome news to Herman and Joan Suit, donors of the professorship. The couple wants to encourage young people, especially women, to share their love of science and knowledge. Like Herman, a radiation oncologist, Joan made her career in science, working as a microbial geneticist. “Careers in science actually are wonderful for exploring and finding out exciting things,” she says. “I hate to see women excluded from that. They should have these fun careers, too.” Explore the universe at

ith an eye to the future, it never hurts to seek insights in the lessons of the past. That is the impetus behind UT’s new William P. Clements, Jr. Center for History, Strategy, and Statecraft. The center will train leaders in the history of national security and diplomacy, honoring the legacy of former Texas Gov. Bill Clements, who mentored a generation of such officials. The Clements Center will be home to diplomatic and international historians already at UT—nationally known voices such as H.W. Brands, Francis Gavin, Mark Lawrence, and Jeremi Suri. It will offer courses and opportunities for students, provide grants and fellowships for exceptional scholars, and sponsor research, lectures, and forums. An avid reader of history, Clements, who died in 2011, founded and led a successful oil and gas drilling company. Prior to completing two terms as Texas’ governor, he served under Presidents Nixon and Ford as acting and deputy secretary of defense. In those roles, he managed the entire Defense Department and helped guide national security policy during a critical time. George Seay, BA ’89, MBA ’98, Life Member, is the CEO of Annandale Capital in Dallas and grandson of Clements. He says his grandfather would be pleased to have his name on an international center at a leading university with a goal of training future American leaders in world affairs. “Leading the Department of Defense was a highlight of his unique, distinguished life,” says Seay, who chairs the board of advisors for the center. “He believed strongly in keeping America pre-eminent in maintaining global security.”

“UT is paving the way for an interdisciplinary approach to history and national security.” – LBJ School student Rachel Hoff The University established the center in cooperation with Seay and other members of the Clements family, who have given an initial gift of $2.5 million. Additional support is being sought from others who support the center’s mission. “UT is the perfect place to establish the Clements Center,” Seay says, “with its world-class faculty, resources, and desire to seize leadership in this vital area.” The center will bolster UT’s status as a top campus to study, teach, and understand history, says President Bill Powers. “American public universities have an obligation to foster a commitment to citizenship and public service. The Clements Center reinforces UT’s efforts to

support the study of diplomatic, military, and international history. These fields, valuable in their own right, are also essential for training the next generation of leaders.” William Inboden will serve as executive director. A faculty member at the LBJ School for Public Affairs and a Distinguished Scholar at the University’s Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, Inboden previously served at the State Department and on the National Security Council staff under President George W. Bush. “General George Marshall once observed that ‘it is to the historian … that we must turn for the most essential service in determining the public policy relating to national defense,’” Inboden says. “Our hope is that the Clements Center will suitably honor the life and legacy of Bill Clements by making UT the pre-eminent university in the country for studying the relationship between history and national security policy. We want it to be of value to both scholars and policymakers.” The Strauss Center, the Department of History, and the LBJ School are partners in the initiative. Other faculty will represent the Government Department, Institute for Historical Studies, and Law School. Alan Tully, chair of the Department of History and the Eugene C. Barker Centennial Professor in American History, says the center’s strength will lie in its interdisciplinary nature. “By bringing together extraordinary faculty talent,” Tully says, “and by providing new resources for scholarship and classroom presence, the Clements Center vaults UT to the forefront of the study of modern American diplomatic history and attendant strategies of statecraft.” Rachel Hoff, who is working on a master of global policy studies degree at the LBJ School, is excited. “University students—in particular, graduate students—typically stay within their own department or school and miss the opportunity to learn what other disciplines have to offer,” she says. “The Clements Center will help fix this problem, bringing together faculty, students, and research opportunities from across campus. UT is paving the way for an interdisciplinary approach to history and national security.” 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


Without them, the Forty Acres would be a shadow of its present self


Above, from left: Planned

gifts helped build McDonald Observatory, the UT Tower, and Littlefield Fountain. Credits: UT archives;

courtesy Maidie Ryan

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magine The University of Texas without the Tower. Next remove the Littlefield Fountain, Jackson School of Geosciences, and EtterHarbin 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—poof! Then you’d have a taste of the University without future gifts, or planned gifts as they are also commonly known. 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 larger gift to establish a Southern history collection. This back-and-forth giving pattern characterized the rivals’ UT philanthropy for the remainder of their lives—and beyond. In 1910 Brackenridge donated 500 acres along the Colorado River, where he hoped to see the campus relocated. Littlefield opposed the move

and left more than $1.25 million to UT in his estate plan—about $14.5 million in today’s dollars—provided the campus stayed where it was. The University later used Littlefield’s bequest to help build the Tower as a library to advance scholarship and research. Meanwhile, a contemporary, William Johnson McDonald, had left a 1926 bequest to endow an astronomical observatory. The first telescope was dedicated in 1939 on Mount Locke. Today McDonald Observatory is one of the world’s leading centers for astronomical research, teaching, and public education. In the decades since those seminal early bequests, planned gifts—which also encompass many other types of giving, such as insurance and retirement beneficiary designations and charitable gift annuities—have helped UT become a premier institution of higher learning. In addition to changing the physical face of the University, this type of giving has educated students—2,566 scholarship awards last year—and helped recruit outstanding faculty through prestigious chairs and professorships.



In the case of the Jackson School, a planned gift transformed an already reputable program into one of the world’s best-regarded academic geoscience communities. The school traces its origins to UT’s Department of Geology, founded in 1888, but became a separate unit at the level of a college in 2005 following one of the most generous gifts in the history of higher education. John A. Jackson, BA ’40, and his wife, Katherine, bequeathed hundreds of millions of dollars to the University, and today the Jackson School has one of the largest faculties and student enrollments of any major geoscience program. It should come as no surprise that the Etter-Harbin Alumni Center, headquarters of the Texas Exes, owes its existence to an estate gift as well, one that connects the center back to UT’s earliest days. Lila B. Etter, daughter of UT’s first president, Leslie Waggener, left behind funds that financed, among other things, much of the center’s original structure in 1965. And finally, were it not for a planned gift, UT would even sound different. The 56-bell Kniker Carillon atop the Tower, the largest set of bells in Texas, was expanded and enhanced by a bequest from Hedwig Kniker, BA ’16, MA ’17. Her gift enabled the 1987 addition of 39 bells to the Tower’s original 17, allowing higher notes to be struck—and future generations to hear the rich timbre of a complete carillon ring out across campus. UT’s Gift Planning team works with individuals and their advisors in confidence and without obligation. Visit giving.utexas. edu/giftplanning to learn more.

hen I was young, my family instilled in me that it was very important to always be involved in the community,” says Maidie Ryan, BA ’96, JD ’01, Life Member. “What that means for me is that I give both of my time and of my financial resources to organizations that mean a lot to me.” Ryan, director of compliance and ethics at BMC Software in Houston, was a scholarship recipient as a law student and has given regularly to UT since graduation. When she was planning her estate, she says, she wanted the charitable part of the plan to focus on organizations that helped her get where she is. “And certainly one of those organizations was The University of Texas,” she says. “I really love the idea of planned giving because it allows you to tell the University or your chosen organization that you have made a commitment to them for the long term. I want UT to continue being the excellent university that it currently is and to grow into a much better university in the future.” Reading to underprivileged schoolchildren is one way Ryan gives back to her community, and she says the experience strengthens her commitment to her alma mater. “When I’m reading to kids, I feel

Maidie Ryan

it’s an opportunity for me to inspire future generations of Longhorns—to continue their education and to believe that they can accomplish dreams and have opportunities that they can’t even imagine today. “I think it’s almost impossible to measure the impact that UT has on Austin, on Texas, on the United States, and on the entire world. Because every person who graduates from UT changes the community in which they live for the better.”

campaign update

Giving to UT during the Campaign for Texas has averaged about a third of a billion dollars each year, an increase of more than

$100,000 million

over the average of the previous campaign. To keep that momentum going and to help ensure a great future for the University, the remainder of the campaign will see a special emphasis placed on

planned gifts. The number of these future gifts is up 78 percent since the

campaign began, and the goal is to get that figure to 100 percent before it ends in August 2014.


Planned gifts recorded since the campaign began in fall 2006

$301 Amount, in millions, pledged in the form of planned gifts

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 2013)  
Changing the World (March-April 2013)  

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...