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Before graduating from The University of Texas at Austin, Lee Bagan raised approximately $26,000 to establish an endowment that supports funding for a comprehensive assessment of students suspected of having learning disabilities.

 

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A New Generation of Philanthropists Supports DDCE

Lee Bagan is part of a new generation of University of Texas at Austin philanthropists—alumni who began their philanthropy efforts as students at UT Austin.

Bagan was concerned about the student cost for testing that determines the existence of a learning disability. The average cost for a comprehensive assessment, which is not covered by most health insurance plans, is $1,300. Many students could not afford to pay for such tests out of their own pockets. Before graduating from the university with a master of arts degree in Middle Eastern Studies in 2007, he raised approximately $26,000 to establish an endowment that supports funding for a comprehensive assessment of students suspected of having learning disabilities.

Photo of Lee Bagan and troops in Iraq

UT alum and philanthropist Lee Bagan (far left) is now a civil-service intelligence specialist deployed in Al-Anbar province, Iraq. Bagan was recently recognized by the Marine Corps for “expert consultation in support of military operations.”

Bagan first thought of the idea to raise money for assessments in the fall of 2005, when he was the director of the Student Government’s Services for Students with Disabilities Agency (SSD). Bagan began his fundraising efforts by setting up a table on campus and talking to people about the issues faced by students with disabilities. Soon, three other students joined the effort, and this small coalition began a letter-writing campaign to solicit funds from alumni, faculty, staff, and friends. Current Student Government President Liam O’Rourke was one of the three students. O’Rourke enlisted the help of a Houston law firm, Klitsas & Vercher, P.C., to assist with the project. “The firm actually closed their office for an entire day to make calls on our behalf,” said O’Rourke.

“Through this experience, I saw firsthand the kindness, devotion, and generosity of the UT student body,” Bagan says. “I am completely convinced that there are very few places on this earth where a random guy can sit with a cup and raise $26,000. This could never have happened if UT students did not love this university and care about the well-being of their colleagues.” The Lee Bagan Endowment for Students with Disabilities is now an established endowment at The University of Texas at Austin. This endowment was created “for students, by students.” Recently, an advisory committee was established, comprised of Austin and national community leaders, student leaders in Student Government, the Texas Cowboys, the Friars Society, and members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternities.

This advisory committee will continue to raise funds for the endowment and sponsor an event to increase awareness on campus and in the community. Krista Schutz-Hampton, the director of Services for Students with Disabilities, says, “We are honored to collaborate with student leaders to implement Mr. Bagan’s vision of access to a college education for all students, ensuring that a student with a disability would be allowed equal opportunity to achieve their dream of a degree from The University of Texas at Austin.”

Bagan’s legacy will live on in this endowment, providing much-needed testing and services to hundreds of students to come. He is an inspiration to other students who wish to give back to their community, and will now realize that they do not have to wait until after graduation to do so.

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