By Dr. Aaron Conley
VP for Development and Alumni Relations
After more than three years in my role here at UT Dallas, I've witnessed many generous acts of philanthropy from our alumni and friends. One of the most inspiring, however, happened recently and came from an unlikely source.
Claudia Tatum joined UT Dallas about two years ago as a parking and transportation specialist. Prior to joining the University, Claudia served in the U.S. Army in both Iraq and South Korea.
In October, when we announced the surprise gifts from Naveen Jindal MBA'92, and Chuck Davidson MS'80 and Nancy Davidson BS'80, Claudia was out sick at the VA hospital in Dallas. "As I met with fellow veterans there, it reminded me how thankful I should be for my health and for my loved ones," she said.
She missed the news of the big event on Oct. 5 and returned to work unaware of the new gifts to the University. Claudia immediately noticed several of her colleagues were displaying the commemorative silver plates that were handed out to guests at the ceremony. "I read about the event and was so inspired, especially by the story of Mr. Jindal. I decided that if a young alumnus in India feels this strongly about supporting UT Dallas, then I could, too."
After visiting the Office of Development and Alumni Relations' website, she found information about naming opportunities for the Campus Enhancement Fund. "The magnolia tree I decided to name reminds me of someone very dear to me who used to say, 'Blossom where you are planted.'"
Claudia is fulfilling her $10,000 pledge through monthly payroll deductions, and she took a special interest in putting her name on one tree in particular. "When I saw that President David E. Daniel had already made a gift to name a tree, I decided I wanted to be next to his."
After learning about this gift, President Daniel surprised Claudia by personally delivering one of the silver plates from the Jindal and Davidson gift ceremony last fall.
"I was honored that he would take the time to thank me in such a personal way," she said. "I'm happy to work at such a great place and to know that my tree will grow and flourish next to President Daniel's."
President Daniel presenting Claudia Tatum
with a gift.
Claudia Tatum with the tree that bears her name, thanks to her commitment to the Campus Enhancement Fund.
For more information, visit utdallas.edu/development.