The Unconventional Yvonne Katz
Yvonne Katz has such a long-standing relationship with UTSA that she jokes: “When I bleed, my blood runs orange.”
That is despite earning a doctorate from a Texas university associated with the decidedly non-orange colors of maroon and white.
The longtime educator has committed $1 million to UTSA’s Alumni Association, which she helped found in 1977. That is just one in a list of firsts in her nearly four-decade-long association with UTSA: She served as the first president of the alumni association and was in the university’s first graduating class in 1974 when she earned an M.A. in educational administration.
“My parents taught me to give back to my community because someone gave for me to pursue my dreams,” she said, adding that she hopes her donation will serve as a challenge to other professionals.
“I am not wealthy, but if I can donate $1 million to the university, I know that others in my situation can as well,” said Katz, who worked as a teacher and administrator in public education for 39 years, including stints as superintendent of San Antonio’s Harlandale ISD, Spring Branch ISD in Houston and an Oregon school district. She also served as the Texas Education Agency’s associate commissioner and director of accreditation.
Her unique donation is what is known as a private gift annuity, which often involves donating non-cash assets such as stocks. After her death, the university will become the sole and irrevocable beneficiary of her annuities.
The gift provides ongoing support for Alumni Association operations and will help sustain the association in perpetuity, said Laura Murray, interim associate vice president for alumni programs.
“As the association grows and reaches new levels of engagement with alumni at a global level, operational support is critical to its ability to excel,” she said. “Dr. Katz’s vision and leadership has provided [that] vital support.”
Murray said the gift’s flexibility will allow the Alumni Association a nimbler response to strategic growth opportunities.
The gift allows a person to convert his or her assets to generate a life income, while also helping to map out a financial plan to meet the donor’s specific donation goal. In Katz’s case, it was her desire to support UTSA.
The dynamic redhead, who enjoys powering down San Antonio streets on her Harley-Davidson motorcycle, fondly notes how far the UTSA campus has evolved since she and 70 fellow students made up the first graduating class in 1974. In those days, the university offered only post-graduate course work in a strip mall office building—a humble beginning.
She helped launch the Office of Alumni Programs years after she graduated. Katz laughingly recalls attending organizational meetings at a downtown San Antonio restaurant “that just happened to serve outstanding nachos and margaritas.”
After receiving her master’s at UTSA, Katz earned a doctorate in education from Texas A&M University, which later recognized her as an outstanding educator.
But over the years, her commitment to UTSA has not faded.
For the last three decades, Katz has helped support a variety of campus programs, including the Dr. Yvonne Katz Endowed Alumni Program Fund; the UTSA Alumni Association Scholarship; the UTSA Excellence Fund; the President’s Associates; Fiesta Under the Stars; the Department of Educational Leadership; the Kirkpatrick Endowed Presidential Scholarship; and women’s golf.
Even in retirement, the grandmother of four has her plate full, enjoying golf, bridge, scuba diving and making jewelry.
And her civic responsibilities remain a priority. She is chair of the San Antonio Women’s Chamber of Commerce, is on the Board of Trustees of Alamo Colleges, and is a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer.
She repeatedly has been recognized for her work. In 1984, she was inducted into the San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame, and served as its president in 2010. In 1991, the Texas Association of School Boards selected her as one of the state’s top five superintendents.
And earlier this year, UTSA renamed the Office of Alumni Programs to the Katz Alumni Center in her honor.
“For nearly 40 years, Dr. Katz has set an inspiring example of how alumni can continue to make a difference in the lives of the UTSA students who are following in their footsteps,” said President Ricardo Romo.