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CHANGING THE WORLD What your investment in UT makes possible

CHINESE COWBOY

UT gave this alumnus a nickname, launched a career, and sparked a lifetime of giving back. By Angela Curtis

T

exas has always been a good fit for Shanghai-born Julian S uez ,

BS ’61. His older cousin, working toward a 1958 degree in mechanical engineering, suggested that Suez become a Longhorn, too.

“To me that was an easy one,” he says. “And I never regretted it.”

Above: Julian Suez at Rockefeller Center. Semiretired, he lives in New York City. Right: Suez receives an award for outstanding mechanical engineering students in 1961. CREDITS: Alyssa Kirsten;

Cockrell School of Engineering; Marsha Miller

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Earning a mechanical engineering degree like his cousin, Suez followed that up with a master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a five-decade career with IBM. He still works for the company a few hours a week from his New York City home. Suez’s career at IBM isn’t the only part of his life that has spanned decades. So has his pattern of yearly giving to UT, which in recent years has grown to include major gifts to the Cockrell School of Engineering. An outright gift will create the Z.F. How Lecture Hall, named for his maternal grandfa-

ther, in the Engineering Education and Research Center, scheduled for completion in 2017. He also has set up a charitable gift annuity that will create a scholarship in the Cockrell School after his lifetime. “I think what makes this country so great is there is a spirit of giving back to society,” he says. “Growing up in China, you don’t see that.” As far as deciding where to give back, UT again was the right fit. “I’ve always wanted to do something, and I thought of no better place than the University of Texas,” he says. “I really thought Texas gave me a head start.”

Suez considers himself fortunate to have found a university that suited him so well. “It’s just a combination of what Texas gave me and how I reacted in that environment,” he says. “The university gave me the opportunity to realize my potential.” His grandfather co-founded the first modern publishing house in China in 1897 at age 26, and although he never received much of an education, he helped bring learning to others by publishing textbooks. The company, Commercial Press, is still in business, with offices in China and other countries. Suez made the most of the opportunity his grandfather never had. At UT, he earned the American Society of Mechanical Engineering’s Hugh Scott Cameron Award, which recognizes outstanding ME students. And he found time for fun, too. Like many Texans, Suez spent the summer months looking forward to fall and football season. “At first when I went to a football game I had no idea what was going on, but the spirit is definitely contagious,” he says. Suez made his UT home at the university’s first co-op, the Campus Guild Co-op on Whitis Ave. During his years there the house was a lively place with plenty of pranksters, and Suez didn’t escape their attentions. He’d go to bed to discover he’d been short-sheeted. That was if he was lucky— sometimes the surprise in his bed was a snake. Then there was the time he was paged over the house PA, only to be carried off and dumped into the Littlefield Fountain. When he asked a friend why his housemates teased him, he was told, “Oh, Julian, don’t worry. They like you. If they don’t like you, they leave you alone.” By the time he moved to New York to work for IBM, he’d been away from Texas for a year getting his master’s at MIT. No matter—something about him telegraphed “Texas” to his IBM co-workers, who dubbed him “the Chinese cowboy.” He still doesn’t know which Texan traits earned him the nickname. “Whatever I picked up I did unintentionally,” he says. The Texas influence has stayed with him more than half a century. After working for IBM in Poughkeepsie and other locations, Suez settled in Manhattan in his semi-retirement. Still, it’s the Lone Star State he invokes when reminiscing. “My life in a way is kind of simple,” he says. “It’s just Texas and IBM.” Pa r t o f w h a t made UT stand out for him, he says, was the teaching. “I had such good experiences with the professors at the university.” He remembers two mechanical engineering professors in particular—Grady Rylander and Leonardt Kreisle—and a math teacher, Fowler Yett. “What is unique about Texas is that I got a lot of encouragement to grow,” he says. “You can call it homey or you can call it whatever. To me it is very important to have that kind of spirit.” This story originally appeared in Texas Leader, a magazine that highlights future-gift donors like Suez and ways to benefit UT through your estate. Learn more at giving.utexas.edu/ giftplanning.

WAYS TO GIVE

ENDOWING A SCHOLARSHIP

W

hile the university welcomes student-support gifts of all types and sizes, if you’re looking for an especially enduring way to help students, you may wish to consider endowing a scholarship. With an endowed gift, funds are invested rather than spent, allowing their value to grow over time and provide a predictable, steady source of support, year in and year out. Undergraduate scholarships are among the most accessible and popular types of endowments, with more than 3,000 named scholarships helping fund the education of nearly 7,000 qualifying UT students last year. But with many times that number of students on campus, and the cost of a degree rising with each tuition increase, there will always be a need for new scholarships. The minimum amount to endow most undergraduate scholarships is $25,000, while other types of endowments such as graduate fellowships have higher funding thresholds. Whatever your gift level, you can take up to five years to complete Scholarships are among an endowment pledge. UT’s most accessible and Susan Finnegan, BS ’81, and her husband, Bill Finnegan, BBA ’78, popular ways to give. Life Members, created the Susan McCartney Finnegan Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Social Work. They had experienced firsthand the importance of the profession when the couple’s oldest son, Nick, died in a car accident just before he was to begin his freshman year at the university. “Our family was helped in our healing process by many wonderful and dedicated counselors,” Susan says, and they wanted to ensure that many others could be similarly assisted. “My hope is that this endowment will help students obtain an education and pursue a career in social work.” Funding a scholarship can be a group effort. With the help of his brothers at Omega Phi Gamma, an Asian-interest fraternity that he co-founded as an undergraduate, Thomas Nguyen, BA ’98, JD ’01, created the Omega Phi Gamma Endowed Scholarship to benefit incoming freshmen of any gender who have financial need. Since 1995, the organization has fostered community and leadership opportunities among Asian Americans and others. The brothers hope other fraternities will follow suit. “Being a true leader means helping the less fortunate and being selfless,” Nguyen says. These scholarship examples and many others are featured in the Legacy Project, a collection of endowment donors’ personal stories. Learn about scholarship gifts and explore the Legacy Project at giving.utexas.edu/howto-give/endowments.

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

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

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Changing the World - Jan-Feb 2016  

Featured in The Alcalde, Jan/Feb 2016

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