The University of Texas at Austin
  • School of Music to be named for couple

    By Leslie Lyon
    Leslie Lyon
    Published: March 20, 2008

    The School of Music in the College of Fine Arts will be named for Dr. Ernest and Sarah Butler following the couple’s gift of $55 million, the largest single gift for a music school at a public university.

    The naming of the “Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music” recognizes the Butlers for more than 25 years of philanthropic support for the School of Music.

    The gift is the largest in the history of the School of Music and the College of Fine Arts and the second largest single gift to the university, exceeded only by a bequest of more than $245 million from the estate of John A. and Katherine G. Jackson. The university’s Jackson School of Geosciences is named for the Jacksons.

    The Butlers’ gift surpasses a $44 million donation made in December 2007 by the Lilly Endowment toward a new building for the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.

    “This is a truly wonderful gift, and it comes from two truly wonderful people – Sarah and Ernest Butler,” said William Powers Jr., president of the university. “The Butlers have been long-time supporters of our School of Music, and they are dear friends. We are proud that our School of Music will now bear their names. This new gift will be transformative by propelling an already outstanding school into one of the very top schools in the nation. No comprehensive university can be great without great arts, and the Butlers have recognized this with their extraordinarily generous gift. We are, and will always be, grateful.”

    The Butlers’ gift is designated for student, faculty and program support, with more than half of the endowment targeting students’ needs. Their gift will be paid in installments over the couple’s lifetime, including a portion as a bequest.

    According to Douglas Dempster, dean of the College of Fine Arts, the Butlers’ gift is transformative because it will allow the school to realize many long-term goals.

    “I cannot overstate the significance of this gift for our School of Music,” Dempster said. “This affords The University of Texas at Austin and the state an opportunity to create the very finest public music school in the nation. And that is our intent. The Butlers are truly exceptional patrons of the arts who understand the transformative power of bold giving. We’re indebted to them for their generosity, for their vision and their visionary philanthropy.”

    Since 1983, the Butlers have created nine endowments in the School of Music to support students, faculty and programs. In 2004, the School of Music named its opera program after the couple in appreciation of their $2 million endowment for the opera theatre program.

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