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Moving Forward: $150 million gift and initiatives strengthen bonds with people of Texas

Dr. Larry R. Faulkner, president of The University of Texas at Austin, announced Saturday (March 2) the largest monetary gift ever made to a single public university in the nation and two major initiatives.

Retired Dallas oilman and noted philanthropist John Jackson and his late wife, Katie, have committed to an estate gift to The University of Texas at Austin estimated to be worth $150 million, Faulkner said.

This gift is the largest ever made to a public university in Texas. The donation also is the largest to a single-campus public university in the nation, surpassed only by a $250 million gift The University of Colorado System received last year. The Colorado System includes several schools.

Faulkner said this is Jackson’s gift to the people of Texas to be carried out through the extraordinary work of faculty and students at The University of Texas at Austin. Jackson’s gift will support research geology, geophysics, energy, mineral and water resources, earth sciences and the environment.

“Mr. Jackson insists that he and his late wife are not donors,” Faulkner said. “They are investors in the future of Texas. The Jacksons are addressing an everlasting interest of the people of Texas with an everlasting flow of financial support, for which we are deeply grateful.”

“The resources of the Earth have been important to me and to what Katie and I have been able to achieve,” Jackson said. “The continued study and understanding of geology and the resources and environment of the earth will be important to the university and the citizens of Texas in the future. Our intent to commit the residue of our estate is in that spirit.”

The $150 million commitment is the third major gift Jackson has given to The University of Texas at Austin. In 2000, the 1940 University of Texas geology graduate and his late wife gave $15 million for expansion of the Geological Sciences Building. In July 2001, Jackson gave $25 million for the creation of the John A. and Katherine G. Jackson School of Geosciences.

The University of Texas at Austin is four-and-a-half years into a seven-year capital campaign. The Jackson gift brings the university’s campaign total to more than $1.1 billion.

“We have surpassed our goal of $1 billion dollars for the university's capital campaign,” Faulkner said. “This marks an important milestone. It also serves as a testament to the faith that Texans have in the ability of the university to transform lives for the benefit of society.”

Faulkner unveiled plans for a “digital knowledge gateway” designed to provide every Texas resident a personalized Internet window into the vast resources of libraries, collections, museums and much more at The University of Texas. Envisioned as an online service that goes far beyond anything existing today, the electronic gateway project represents a major commitment by the institution.

“The university is setting the goal of providing a digital Knowledge Gateway to all Texans,” Faulkner said. “We will provide access for every citizen, via a personalized Internet window, into the resources of our libraries, collections, museums and much more."

A second major initiative will be the creation of a commission that will guide the university as it expands on its role and responsibilities in the 21st century. The commission will be diverse and geographically representative, reflecting areas such as public education, industry, the nonprofit sector and government.

"This is the 125th anniversary of the constitutional mandate giving rise to The University of Texas at Austin,” Faulkner said. “Therefore, I will convene a Commission of 125 to begin work in the fall. It will be charged with defining the model, goals and strategy for our public research university in this era.

“It will have representation from all of Texas — all population groups, all geographic regions and all sectors of activity,” he said.

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  Updated 2014 October 13
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