AUSTIN, Texas — University of Texas at Austin alumnus and CarMax founder Austin Ligon and his wife, Samornmitr "Pan" Lamsam, have committed $200,000 to the Plan II Honors program over the next four years to support students studying abroad and encourage other alumni to support the program.
Four years ago, the Ligon-Lamsam International Study Abroad fund was created by the couple with a $1 million gift, one of the largest single donations given to Plan II. The gift has helped more than 500 Plan II students study abroad. It was intended to be spent outright over five years and is expected to run out this year.
"Studying abroad had a transformational impact on my life," Ligon said when the Ligon-Lamsam fund was first created. "It opened my eyes to the fact that my perspective on the world was just one tiny little portion of the ways in which the world could be viewed."
Ligon studied abroad in Peru while he was a student at The University of Texas at Austin, where he graduated from Plan II in 1973 and earned his master's degree in economics in 1978.
Ligon now challenges his fellow Plan II alumni to give. His principal aim is to encourage many contributions of varying amounts, which, together with his new gift, will have an impact on the lives and academic careers of Plan II students.
"It was amazing for me to see just how many times I heard from Plan II students, thanking me for the opportunity to study abroad," he said of his 2006 gift. "It has been very rewarding, and I want to share that feeling with other Plan II alumni."
Plan II is a 75-year-old program that offers an interdisciplinary honors major. The core curriculum requirements include the study of literature, philosophy, society, the arts, mathematics and natural sciences.
"This challenge provides the opportunity to all Plan II alumni who can to give even a small amount and see their gift used in one of the most positive and direct ways possible — studying abroad," says Michael Stoff, Plan II director. "We’d like to see every Plan II student with a passport."