Houston Attorney’s $15 Million Gift Will Support Law, Nursing, Undergraduate Studies

May 12, 2008

AUSTIN, Texas — Prominent Houston attorney, philanthropist and University of Texas at Austin alumnus Joseph D. Jamail has given the university $15 million to create endowments in the schools of Law and Nursing and the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Studies.

President Powers thanks Joe Jamail

President William Powers Jr. thanks Joe Jamail during the May 12 press conference announcing his $15 million gift to The University of Texas at Austin. Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst (right) looks on.

Watch video of the May 12 press conference announcing the $15 million gift from Joe Jamail. (Video opens in a new window.) Photo: Marsha Miller

The Law School will use $10 million of this gift to create a Faculty Excellence Fund to support recruitment and retention. The School of Nursing will use $2.5 million to encourage faculty recruitment and retention as well, but will also create fellowships to support students seeking a doctorate in nursing. Undergraduate Studies will use $2.5 million to fund a program to advise prospective and first-year students on making wise choices of college and major.

In recognition of the Jamails' long involvement and history of philanthropy, the university has named one of its most important public rooms in honor of Lee Hage Jamail, Jamail's late wife. Main 212, which has been used by the University of Texas Board of Regents and has been the site of numerous public announcements, has been designated the Lee Hage Jamail Academic Room.

"For a long time, Joe Jamail has been a staunch supporter of many programs across our university," said William Powers Jr., president of The University of Texas at Austin. "We are deeply indebted to him for this marvelous gift. It will be of great benefit to our Law School, our School of Nursing, and our emerging programs with our undergraduate curriculum. So often, Joe has moved his alma mater forward toward excellence. I'm proud to say he is a dear friend of mine, and, more important, of this great institution."

The Jamails' giving spans three decades and reflects a deep commitment to athletics and academics. They have made significant gifts to the colleges of Communication, Education, Fine Arts, Liberal Arts, Natural Sciences, the School of Nursing, the Harry Ransom Center, the Texas Exes and Athletics. Jamail has served on numerous institutional boards and councils, as did his wife. Prior to her death in 2007, Lee Jamail was a life member of the university's influential Development Board.

The university's campus includes the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center, the Joseph D. Jamail Pavilion in the School of Law, the Joseph D. Jamail Center for Legal Research and the Joe Jamail Field, the playing surface in Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

"I take great satisfaction in making this gift, because I know its value will be compounded many times over through the work produced by the faculty and students at the University of Texas," said Jamail, 82. "That work is vital to the life and health of the state of Texas, and never before has support from the university's alumni and friends been more important. Looking forward to an even brighter future for Texas, I consider this gift an investment—the best and most lasting investment I could make."

"Joe and Lee Jamail have long made The University of Texas at Austin the center of their philanthropy," Powers said. "It seems most fitting that we honor their passion for the university and their generosity in a significant way. We chose to rename Main 212 primarily because it has served since the 1930s as the principal setting for many of the university's important public announcements. At one time or another, we have expressed all of our hopes and our vision for the university in that room, as well as honored the best of our family there—our students and faculty, our donors and our alumni."

Joe Jamail has long been recognized as one of the most influential attorneys in the country. He and his late wife are also well known philanthropists whose generosity made the "100 Most Generous Americans" list in 1997. They have made substantial gifts to the Texas Heart Institute, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine, UT Medical Branch at Galveston, UT Health Science Center, UT's M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and the South Texas College of Law.

Joe Jamail is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin, earning a bachelor's degree in 1950 and a juris doctor degree in 1953. Lee Jamail earned a bachelor's degree from Incarnate Word College and studied speech pathology at The University of Texas at Austin.

For more information, contact: Don Hale, 512-471-3151.