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The University of Texas at San Antonio Online Magazine

 

A Great Harvest

Winell Herron, M.B.A. ’00 and group vice president of public affairs, diversity and environmental affairs for the regional retailer H-E-B, was instrumental in sealing the largest private matching gift in UTSA’s history.

A Great Harvest

Retailer’s commitment catapults UTSA over its initial campaign goal

It’s a familiar story. When Winell Herron visited UTSA 13 years after she graduated with her M.B.A., she was taken aback—albeit in a pleasant way—by the new construction, the flood of students and the energy that football has brought.

It hardly looked like the same campus.

But here’s the unique twist: Herron played a key role in what the future will hold for her alma mater. And the proof is literally written on the walls of the university’s recently dedicated H-E-B University Center.

As group vice president of public affairs, diversity and environmental affairs for retailer H-E-B, Herron also oversees philanthropic giving to educational institutions and nonprofit organizations. So it wasn’t unusual when H-E-B chairman and CEO Charles Butt handed her a gift proposal. But this one was different.

“This is the largest gift that H-E-B has ever given to the university,” she said. “Many of the students who attend UTSA are the first in their families to attend college. For us, that is incredibly compelling.”

In February, a $5 million gift to UTSA—the largest private matching gift in the university’s history, was announced. The H-E-B Faculty Research Excellence Fund was significant in another way. It quickly catapulted UTSA beyond its goal of raising $120 million by 2015 in its first capital campaign.

Within five months, 10 private donors had stepped up to match H-E-B’s gift of $ 5 million with an additional $5 million to support faculty research endowments.

University officials said the response to the fundraising challenge was strong and quick. That is a testimony to UTSA’s role in the community, Herron added.

“Talk about bold vision, commitment, passion and determination to deliver for the students of Texas,” she said. “It’s very inspiring to witness, especially as an alumna.”

In April, UTSA unveiled the H-E-B University Center, renamed in recognition its support over the years.

Among the endowed positions created by the fund is a $2 million distinguished university chair for research in medicinal chemistry and drug discovery, made possible through a $1 million gift from Rita and John Feik, and a $2 million distinguished chair for the dean of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, supported by Mary Pat Stumberg.

The money will be used to continue to attract and recruit leading scholars and researchers by providing financial support for their research, teaching and other educational activities, said President Ricardo Romo.

“This is a watershed moment for UTSA,” Romo said. “The generosity of H-E-B was the spark that ignited giving by others who saw matching gifts as a way to make their commitments even more impactful. We are deeply grateful to everyone who has contributed so meaningfully to the advancement of education.

“This gift will have a transformational impact on UTSA and San Antonio by helping to bring world-class faculty to our community to conduct research, create new businesses that grow our economy and inspire a new generation of leaders,” he added.

Already, top faculty members have been recruited from institutions such as MIT, Harvard, UC Berkeley, the University of Michigan and Rice University. UTSA has 59 endowed faculty positions committed, representing about 9 percent of the total tenured and tenure-track faculty positions across the university. UTSA’s goal is to increase this number to 10 percent by 2016. Longer term, the university expects to have 20 percent of positions endowed.

“We’re proud to have the H-E-B name associated with this special university,” Herron said. “Education is a catalyst for change that has a long lasting, positive effect on generations to come. H-E-B is deeply invested in the future of the Texas economy, which we feel is anchored by how well we educate our students.”

That belief in and support of UTSA has been evident for many years. Since 1986, H-E-B has provided more than $3 million in additional gifts toward graduate school fellowships, scholarships and programming support that have benefitted every college and numerous student and alumni activities.

“A large percentage of students that attend UTSA stay in San Antonio or Texas,” Herron said. “We’re a Texas company. UTSA is in our backyard. As the quality of students grows and as the number of academic programs increase, businesses like H-E-B benefit from these types of investments.

“It’s a win for the students, a win for businesses, a win for the university and a win for the communities in our state.”

Stumberg Distinguished University Chair for the Dean of Liberal and Fine Arts

Stumberg Distinguished University Chair for the Dean of Liberal and Fine Arts

Mary Pat Stumberg

Recently, longtime San Antonio resident Mary Pat Stumberg was considering how best to honor the philanthropic efforts of her husband of 57 years, Louis Herbert Stumberg.

Over the years, the couple created or funded a half-dozen endowment funds and scholarships. Stumberg wanted to memorialize the lifetime’s worth of civic contributions by her businessman husband, who died in 2011, and who decades earlier pioneered the manufacture of frozen Mexican food when he and his brother founded Patio Foods.

After several discussions with College of Liberal and Fine Arts Dean Daniel Gelo and other university leaders, plans crystalized for the Stumberg Distinguished University Chair. Funds from the endowment will be used by Gelo to boost research, teaching and scholarship advancement within the college.

“Dan Gelo has been a great dean, so if this can help him leave a good mark on the university and provide for quality leadership into the future, while at the same time honoring my husband, then I welcome the opportunity,” Stumberg said.

Stumberg, an emeritus member of the Institute of Texan Cultures Development Board and past member of the COLFA Advisory Council, has noted that giving to a relatively young institution like UTSA can often make a visible impact in helping shape the university’s future direction.

She and her family have had a long history with the university, a point Provost John Frederick alluded to when the university proposed the endowment.

“Mary Pat, you are a longtime supporter of the university and, along with Louis, your generosity has significantly advanced the arts and music at UTSA, as well as across our community. Your family’s leadership has been instrumental in growing UTSA into the emerging research university it is today,” Frederick said.

In 2008, the couple, co-directors of the Louis and Mary Pat Stumberg Foundation, created the Marjorie Powell Zachry Memorial Endowment Scholarships for Strings, named for Mrs. Stumberg’s mother.

In keeping with her wish that scholarships be available in interdisciplinary studies, the music department also created a fund specifically for engineering and science majors taking music courses.

The endowment will give Gelo the option of using the funds to strengthen and advance COLFA’s teaching, research and outreach programs, including supporting student programs, start-up research funding for new faculty, rewards for faculty and staff excellence, and support for centers within the college.

Noting that past gifts from the family have been responsible for keeping the music department’s pianos tuned and repaired, Gelo said, “This endowment will further the spirit that Mary Pat brings with her of helping students in innovative ways.”

Rita and John Feik Distinguished University Chair in Medicinal Chemistry

Rita and John Feik Distinguished University Chair in Medicinal Chemistry

Rita and John W. Feik

John W. Feik has been in the pharmaceutical industry for more than 30 years. It is where he found his passion, and also his fortune.

Now he and his wife, Rita, want to create an opportunity for others to find the same success in medicinal chemistry. The couple has committed $1 million to create the $2 million Rita and John Feik Distinguished University Chair in Medicinal Chemistry.

“We’ve watched UTSA grow over the years,” Feik said. “The opportunity to help bring the university to Tier One is something we’d like to support. Education is a sweet spot for us.

“We have both lived in San Antonio for the longest part of our lives, and we have a great affinity for San Antonio and its growth. It’s been good to us, so we want to help the city in return. Supporting education here is one way to do that.”

The money will be used to advance research in the medicinal chemistry field and will strengthen the Department of Chemistry’s ability to recruit and retain world-class faculty in drug discovery.

“The Feik gift is really a pivotal one for our region and for the state of Texas,” said College of Sciences Dean George Perry. “John Feik has been a foundational person for the pharmaceutical industry regionally and internationally.”

The gift is a public show of confidence and support for the Department of Chemistry, Perry said, and the faculty member who will eventually hold the endowed chair will be the linchpin of the medicinal chemistry program.

“It really cements the whole investment we’ve made over the past several years in medicinal chemistry,” Perry added.

Feik graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1969 with degrees in finance and chemistry. He joined Fort Worth-based Alcon Laboratories in 1970 and held several executive positions until 1990, when he acquired Alcon’s San Antonio plant operations. He and a partner established DFB Pharmaceuticals Inc., which became the parent company of DPT Laboratories Ltd., Phyton Biotech LLC, Coria Laboratories and Healthpoint Biotechnologies Ltd.

Feik served as group president and chief operating officer of DFB subsidiaries from 1990 to December 2012.

Feik has served for nine years on UTSA’s Development Board. In addition to the endowed chair, he has given nearly $180,000 to UTSA through DPT and DFB Pharmaceuticals. In 2010, he was inducted into the San Antonio Business Hall of Fame for exhibiting work ethics, values and a sense of community.

“Sciences are the bedrock of future wellbeing and change in our society,” Feik said. “I think you need to have an overall education on top of that, but science allows you to be able to truly identify new ways and new things. This medicinal chemistry chair gets right to the heart of it.”

Edward E. Whitacre, Jr. Chair in Mechanics

A $1 million endowed chair in mechanics in the College of Engineering will not only bring increased credibility to the department, but it will also serve as a magnet to attract top-level Ph.D. candidates in a rapid growth area of the college’s curriculum, current and former engineering department leaders said.

The gift will support mechanics professors in performing research and teaching activities, said Mehdi Shadaram, interim dean of the College of Engineering.

“The endowed professor can use the income to recruit top Ph.D. candidates or to purchase research equipment for his or her laboratory,” Shadaram said.

The endowment marks the first time that a specifically designated area of engineering—in this instance, mechanics—will be the beneficiary of a directed chair, noted interim vice president for research Mauli Agrawal.

“Mechanics is an area we are growing very quickly,” said Agrawal. “It is a complex and varied topic area that ranges from infrastructure sustainability, like keeping an aging fleet of aircraft flying longer, to increasing the effective life of buildings and bridges.”

Shadaram said the endowed funds will boost the college’s overall effort in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math, often called STEM fields, and will create career opportunities for more of America’s future scientists and engineers.

Bodenstedt Chair for the Dean of Business

Bodenstedt Chair for the Dean of Business

Jim Bodentstedt ‘96

Jim Bodenstedt ’96 was just a teen when he discovered his love of business. Today, as president and CEO of MUY!, he has decided to give back to the school that honed his skills and helped make him successful. So with a gift of $500,000, he created the $1 million Bodenstedt Chair for the Dean of Business.

“I wanted to give back to the business school where I graduated, and I wanted to help Dean Gerry Sanders to grow programs and allow him to use those monies to better develop the College of Business,” he said.

Bodenstedt founded MUY! in 2003 with 18 existing Taco Bell and KFC restaurants in West Texas and Corpus Christi. The firm now operates 270 Pizza Huts, Taco Bells and Wendy’s throughout Texas and the northeastern United States.

Bodenstedt has consistently supported the university. In 2010, he donated $1 million to fund football scholarships, the first private donation of that size to the athletics department.

He later became UTSA’s capital campaign chairman, helping lead the task of raising $175 million by 2015.

“As many have done, I think it’s important for businesses to continue to support UTSA,” Bodenstedt said. “In my case, it was important for me to give back to the College of Business, where my accounting degree was earned.”

San Antonio has historically been recognized for its skilled labor force, he said, and UTSA’s role in developing that workforce is an important one.

“The city needs some greater balance,” Bodenstedt added. “Higher education helps attract the businesses that look for the skilled workforce. This will lead to greater success for the city. And UTSA will be the biggest part of that attraction in the future.”

Cloud Technology Professorships

Cloud Technology Professorships

Graham Weston

Rackspace Chairman Graham Weston is a firm believer that academia is a bridge to a robust workforce and injects the economy with the necessary human capital to develop and prosper. That’s why his strategic philanthropic effort, the 80/20 Foundation, has committed $500,000 to create four endowed professorships in a field focusing on the latest innovations in Web and Internet hosting known as cloud technology.

With the match, the donation will create four $250,000 professorships at several of the university’s colleges.

Weston is convinced that firms have trouble recruiting science and technology talent to San Antonio, so he wants to invest locally to grow the talent that will attract top industries to the city, said Lorenzo Gomez III, the foundation’s executive director.

“In our perfect world, UTSA would be producing entire crops of cloud-computing-skilled people. By doing that, you would force companies like Facebook, Amazon and Google to open up offices here,” he said. “We have this opportunity to leverage [those elements of] academia and the private sector...and marry them to fulfill a high-need pipeline in our workforce.”

Gomez said the intent is to attract top faculty to UTSA to make San Antonio an epicenter of cloud computing knowledge and training.

The 80/20 Foundation supports organizations that impact the region by providing more options for urban living and entertainment, turning the city into a hub for business and social entrepreneurs, and promoting education for high-tech jobs of the 21st century.

That’s where UTSA comes in, Gomez said.

“We’re in an arms race for brains,” he said. “The knowledge economy is very hard. If you are a knowledge worker, you can pick where you want to work, and if you have certain skills, like cloud computing, not only can you pick where you want to work, but you will also be recruited by everyone. The world is your oyster.”

The new professorships will advance cloud computing research and education. At the provost’s discretion, they can be assigned to any college or department and are expected to immediately benefit the College of Engineering and the College of Sciences.

“We need to start teaching these skills for the next wave of knowledge workers the Internet needs,”

Gomez said. “In our world, cloud computing has already changed the world.”

Semmes Foundation Endowed Chair in Neurobiology

Semmes Foundation Endowed Chair in Neurobiology

Tom and Patricia Seemes

A $1 million endowment for a chair in neurobiology in the College of Sciences could help broaden understanding of Alzheimer’s disease, one of the leading afflictions and causes of death among senior citizens.

Thanks to a $500,000 donation from the San Antoniobased Semmes Foundation, UTSA’s George Perry, a renowned Alzheimer’s authority, will have an unprecedented opportunity for worldwide collaboration and expanded research into the debilitating affliction, as well as other neurological diseases.

Perry, dean of the College of Sciences, will hold the Patricia and Tom Semmes Endowed Chair in Neurobiology, which will be aligned with the Neurosciences Institute, headed by Charles Wilson, a leading expert in Huntington’s and Parkinson’s diseases. The chair will coordinate research into more than 50 nervous system diseases.

“Leverage means a lot for a foundation, so this is just an ideal situation for us,” said Tom Semmes, chairman of the family foundation, referring to collaboration with H-E-B.

Alzheimer’s afflicts one in every six Americans in their 60s and one of every two in their 80s, and is the nation’s fifthleading cause of death. It produces profound changes in the brain and is characterized by the loss of cognitive function.

The disease causes an increased number of molecules, known as free radicals, to cripple and kill brain cells, which triggers dementia. Perry’s research will focus on the brain cells’ response to the free radicals and the damage they cause.

It is believed that understanding this process may lead to ways to interrupt the disease’s ravaging effects as well as to effective intervention in younger patients.

Bertha Perez Endowed Distinguished Professorship in Biliteracy Research

A former faculty member, known for her lifelong personal and professional commitment to improving literacy rates, is now doing what she can to continue her life’s mission. She recently gave $250,000 to the university to create a $500,000 professorship in support of biliteracy research.

The donor established the professorship to help the university recruit and retain an expert to advance biliteracy research and teaching.

“Her generosity in supporting the endowed professorship in biliteracy ensures the college’s ability to attract and support outstanding scholars who will continue to focus attention on this most crucial area of study,” said Betty Merchant, dean of the College of Education and Human Development.

The gift reflects the donor’s passion for Latino children and families, and the belief that there needs to be a more expansive and inclusive view of literacy, Merchant said.

Jacobson Distinguished Professorship of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Jacobson Distinguished Professorship of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Dr. Norman Jacobson

Dr. Norman Jacobson is no novice when it comes to entrepreneurship or philanthropy.

That’s why the former internist pledged $250,000 to establish the Jacobson Distinguished Professorship in Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“It was important to donate to UTSA’s College of Engineering because I wanted to return to the community that has been so kind to me, and I particularly wanted to highlight the important, innovative and productive performance of the college,” he said.

Jacobson was the founder and CEO of Hospital Inpatient Management Services, an enterprise that started the hospitalist industry in the U.S. and changed the delivery of primary care.

He is also the former chairman and CEO of Advanced Tobacco Products and is a real estate partnership manager and investor.

Through the years, Jacobson has supported UTSA with gifts totaling more than $350,000, allocated to the Roadrunner Foundation, UTSA Athletics and the College of Engineering.

The Jacobson Distinguished Professorship of Innovation and Entrepreneurship is expected to change the face of entrepreneurship in the region, Jacobson said. The endowment will bring an expert who will guide young entrepreneurs, and will provide financial support to encourage students’ success in their technology-related entrepreneurial endeavors, making San Antonio a hub for new business activity

Jacobson sees his donation as vital in helping UTSA reach Tier One status because contributions like his can help attract top-notch faculty and students, he said.

“It’s a tedious and incremental process to achieve credibility and acclaim, but the effort is worthwhile and the rewards, at all levels, are good for the university and the city,” he said.

The work being done in the College of Engineering inspired him to make his most recent pledge, he added.

“Its dynamic growth and commitment to teaching and practical application of learning and invention impresses me the most about the college,” Jacobson said. “My interaction with the students has awed and inspired me, and raised my enthusiasm for supporting the College of Engineering.”

Melvin Lachman Distinguished Professorship in Entrepreneurship

Melvin Lachman Distinguished Professorship in Entrepreneurship

Melvin Lachman

The memory of a post-war pots-and-pans salesman known for his entrepreneurial skills and innate salesmanship will live on with the Melvin Lachman Distinguished Professor in Entrepreneurship in the College of Business.

Thanks to an anonymous donor, $500,000 will be set aside for the professorship, which will be held by William Flannery, chair of the Department of Entrepreneurship and Technology Management.

The business college plans to use the professorship to help spread the seed of entrepreneurship by providing tomorrow’s business leaders with the education, experience and exposure needed to succeed. Currently, more than 100 UTSA students own their own businesses.

A San Antonio native, Lachman was a graduate of Jefferson High School and the University of Texas at Austin.

The position will honor a “man who was a real character,” said his widow, Judy Lachman. “He never knew a stranger.”

Lachman served in the Army during World War II. After finishing his tour of duty, he returned to his hometown, and with a $3,000 investment launched his pots-and-pans sales operation.

He would later co-found Lachman-Rose, which became the largest wholesale toy distributorship in the Southwest.

After selling that business in 1971, Lachman became vice president of the Quincy Lee Company, a real estate development firm that pioneered the construction of quality affordable housing in San Antonio.

“The magic to Melvin was that he was totally unorthodox,” said Quincy Lee’s son, Steven, who recalled that when he was first introduced to Lachman, “Melvin was wearing red, yellow and green checkered slacks and an Oak Hills golf cap. Melvin was a natural-born salesperson.”

Weldon W. Hammond, Jr. Endowed Distinguished Professorship in Hydrogeology

Weldon W. Hammond, Jr. Endowed Distinguished Professorship in Hydrogeology

Linda and Weldon Hammond

Linda Hammond, the wife of a longtime geology professor, former director of the UTSA Center for Water Research and former naval officer, has honored her husband with a $500,000 distinguished professorship in geosciences.

A local watercolor artist, Hammond said she couldn't think of a better way to honoe Weldon W. Hammond JR. after his retirement in 2012 following 34 years with the Department of Geology. Weldon Hammond, a consulting geologist since 1970, currently serves as associate professor emeritus in geological sciences.

The water center he led is a research component of the College of Sciences and the College of Engineering.

Linda Hammond said the professorship will focus on issues dealing with groundwater exploration and management, including recharge enhancement studies, solid waste site location studies, flooding, and mineral exploration and development, which are her husband’s forte.

“This is an excellent way of ‘paying it forward’ and just a way to give back to the university in the area of hydrogeology,” she said. “In San Antonio and the region, water needs are extremely important, and we certainly need good science behind what we do.”

In addition to his academic career, Weldon Hammond also served as a captain in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Blue Ridge in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

He secured bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in geology from the University of Texas at Austin.

–Lety Laurel

 
 

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