Department of History receives $500,000 gift to create the Stuart W. Stedman Excellence Fund in History
Houston businessman and philanthropist Stuart W. Stedman has pledged $1 million to The University of Texas (UT) at Austin to provide scholarships to students in the Plan II Honors program and to promote excellence in the Department of History.
Posted: March 1, 2011
Garrison Hall, home to the History Dept.
The funds will be used specifically to create the Stuart W. Stedman Excellence Fund in History. It will facilitate many goals of the department including the support of academic and scholarly work by faculty and students, the opportunity to attend conferences and travel for research.
The Stedman Excellence Fund will also support faculty in the creation of new courses or hiring graduate assistants. This fund for excellence is unique in its scope and size among the College of Liberal Arts departments, significantly expanding the chair's ability to support and encourage stellar teaching and research.
Stedman said his undergraduate experience as a Plan II major with a concentration in history changed his life. His gift, made through his family's Stedman West Foundation, will help future Texas students receive the benefits of a liberal arts education at the university.
"I transferred into UT my sophomore year. And, even though my grades weren't stellar, Plan II leaders saw something in me," said Stedman, who graduated in 1979 and went on to receive a master of business administration and law degree from the university.
"Plan II made me an educated person in the most well rounded sense. Plan II’s core curriculum made me a liberally educated man, but it allowed me to concentrate on my true academic love—history,” Stedman says. "I owe a big debt to Plan II. So doing something significant for the program has always been on my list of things I wanted to accomplish in life."
"We're extremely pleased when a graduate makes a decision like this that reflects on the value of a history education," said Department Chair Alan Tully, the Eugene C. Barker Centennial Professor in American History and Fellow of Walter Prescott Webb Chair in History.
"The range of activities, including student support and scholarly engagement, that this gift will endow lies at the heart of the practice and study of history," said Tully. "And the fostering of a historical perspective enhances, so much, our ability to understand and make contributions to the various worlds we experience."
The other half of Stedman's gift will be used to create the Stuart W. Stedman 40 Acres Scholarship for Plan II. Established by the Texas Exes, 40 Acres Scholarships pay full tuition, fees, textbook costs and living expenses for up to five years for top students entering the university. The Stedman scholarship will be reserved for students from Texas who have been admitted to the highly selective program.
"To see a graduate who values his Plan II education in this way and wants to provide a similar experience for another student demonstrates the validity and power of our Plan II community," said Plan II Director Michael Stoff, the Fellow of Hayden W. Head Regents Chair in the Plan II Honors Program in History. "For Stuart Stedman to pay back the program in this way is heartwarming."
Tully also expressed his gratitude to the Visiting Committee of the department for their “active support of spotlighting our history faculty, students, and research at anticipated, engaging events in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, and New York City, which keeps the department on the minds of alumni and others who want to give back.”
Stedman is president of the Houston-based Stedman West Interests, Inc. investment company.