Want to support UT Dallas in a way that leaves a lasting legacy? Opportunity Funds give donors the chance to benefit any part of the University through the creation of a permanent endowment. These funds can be established with a gift of at least $10,000 and can be pledged over five years. Employee matching gift programs, which are offered by many companies, can be used to fulfill a pledge.
Opportunity Funds provide deans, center directors and other key leaders with critical unrestricted resources. These funds can be used to take advantage of timely opportunities, enhance programs and meet unexpected needs.
By pooling the income generated by multiple Opportunity Funds, deans and directors may enable students to travel to academic conferences, pay for upgraded research equipment, supplement scholarships to recruit competitive students and bring distinguished artists to campus.
To learn more about our generous donors who have established Opportunity Funds, select any of the names listed below. For more information, please call 972-883-6504.
Erin Dougherty BA'03, MPA'07 and Ray Mitchel BA'03 created an Opportunity Fund to provide resources to enhance the relationship between UT Dallas and its alumni. The couple met at the University as freshmen. They are grateful for the opportunities that UT Dallas has provided to them as students and now as alumni and employees. Erin has worked in alumni relations at UT Dallas since 2006 and now serves as the senior director of alumni relations and annual giving. Ray is a police officer at the University. Both Erin and Ray said they believe that the University is strengthened by a strong group of involved alumni who are proud of their alma mater. The gift is intended to be a source of opportunity and inspiration for future generations of Comets.
Dr. Gene Fitch Jr.'s Opportunity Fund to support athletics enables the department to better represent the University and enhance the experience of student-athletes. For Fitch, dean of students at UT Dallas, intercollegiate athletics provides the campus community with a means to unite through a common bond—supporting the University. Fitch believes that athletics is vital to every student because it provides a richer college experience on campus. Athletics can often be used as a window to a university, he explained. Through athletics, prospective students can learn about the dynamic opportunities available at UT Dallas. Fitch provides management and supervision to the Dean of Students Office, including student conduct and conflict resolution, formation and interpretation of University policies, disability services, fraternity and sorority life, the Student Union and Activities Advisory Board, spirit programs, student government, student media and student organizations. He came to UT Dallas from Middle Tennessee State University, where he was the associate vice president of student affairs and dean of student life.
Melissa MS’98 and Ben Sweeney have a personal connection to the Callier Center for Communication Disorder’s Cochlear Implant Program. After graduating from UT Dallas with a master of science in communication disorders, Melissa became a speech-language pathologist at the same place that she did her clinical training: Callier. Little did she know that working with children and families in the center’s cochlear implant program would become her life’s work. It’s been 13 years since Melissa started at Callier, and she now serves as the program’s first division head. The Sweeneys created an Opportunity Fund to honor the children and families in the program. Melissa said that the participants have enriched her life and that she and Ben are committed to the program’s sustenance.
Jean and Bill Booziotis established an Opportunity Fund for the Center for Vital Longevity to support the efforts of a group of distinguished cognitive neuroscientists led by Drs. Denise Park and Michael Rugg. Bill founded Booziotis & Company Architects in 1989 and serves as its senior principal. He founded that firm’s precursor, Thomas and Booziotis, in 1965. During his career, Bill has worked with clients including UT Austin, Texas Instruments, the Dallas Museum of Art, and Communities Foundation of Texas. He has also been involved in all phases and aspects of planning, architecture and interior design in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Bill has served on numerous advisory committees and boards, such as the Center for Vital Longevity Advisory Council and the UT Dallas Development Board.
Dr. Larry Sall retired from UT Dallas in 2010 after leading the Eugene McDermott Library through an era of dynamic growth. His tenure included service under four UT Dallas presidents. Sall joined the library as coordinator of Special Collections in 1978 and was selected as director of libraries in 2000. He became the dean in 2004. A native of Portland, Ore., Sall received a bachelor's degree at the University of Idaho and his master's degree and doctorate from Wayne State University in Detroit. He was a graduate exchange fellow at the University of Munich. An active member of the community, Sall serves on the boards of the Friends of the Dallas Public Library, the Frontiers of Flight Museum and the Texas Audubon Society. He is a member of the UT Dallas History of Aviation Advisory Council, Dallas Committee on Foreign Relations, the American Council on Germany and the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth. Now that he's retired, Sall enjoys traveling the world with his wife Judy, who spent many years working in the library of the Dallas Morning News.
Jan Collmer is a well-known businessman and philanthropist. He is the chairman of the History of Aviation Collection (HAC) Advisory Council and founder and president emeritus of the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas. Jan is also the creator and former president of High Voltage Power Systems, previously Collmer Semiconductor. He is a former U.S. Navy fighter pilot and has flown in air shows for more than 20 years. From 1990-96, Jan served on the UT Dallas Development Board. In addition to the HAC, Jan also supported the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UT Dallas. Jan and his wife Suzanne reside in Dallas.
Dr. James Davilla is an aviation and aerospace enthusiast who also serves on the History of Aviation Collection (HAC) Advisory Council. James’ affinity for the University began when he used the McDermott Library Special Collections, home of the HAC, to do research for his book French Aircraft of the First World War. His work with UT Dallas was so impactful to his research that he established an Opportunity Fund for the ongoing care and operation of the HAC. James also gives back to the University in other ways, including hosting several members of the advisory council who traveled to San Jose, Calif., to view his private collection of aviation memorabilia.
Both Jack and Jane Hamilton were longtime area residents who generously supported UT Dallas. Jack was a key figure in the growth of the History of Aviation Collection (HAC). As former president of Teledyne Geotech, he was a staunch supporter of aviation history who served as co-chairman of the History of Aviation Collection Advisory Council. The council provides guidance and fundraising support for the HAC. Jack also served on the board of directors for the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas. From 2002-10, Jane was a board member for the Foundation for the Callier Center for Communication Disorders.
Michael Hasco EMBA’98 is vice president of global accounts for the H.J. Heinz Company. As a student at UT Dallas, Michael was voted by his classmates as most likely to be the first quoted in The Wall Street Journal. Michael fulfilled that vision when he was featured in a 2006 story that focused on the efforts of food processing giant Heinz to win back the ketchup concession at McDonald’s restaurants in the United States. As an aviation enthusiast and Zeppelin airship specialist, Michael made a book donation to the History of Aviation Collection at UT Dallas. The Technical Air Intelligence Center Report #41: Japanese Balloon and Attached Devices contains declassified U.S. intelligence documents detailing the World War II project that successfully sent balloons rigged with bombs from Japan to the United States. Michael and his wife, Buffy, live in Pittsburgh with their three daughters.
Bonnie Pitman established an Opportunity Fund in honor of her colleagues’ leadership, vision, innovation and commitment to creating new models for learning and collaboration.
Before joining the faculty of the School of Arts and Humanities, Pitman served as a leader of the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) for more than a decade. Pitman began as deputy director in 2000 and was named Eugene McDermott Director in 2008. At the DMA, Pitman found new ways to engage audiences by building dynamic collections and exhibitions, and launching innovative programs in the community. She is now a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the University where she is charged with using her expertise in technology and emerging media to continue to educate students and to enhance the prestige of the School of Arts and Humanities.
Pagett Daves Gosslee MAT'79 and Mike Gosslee honor their parents, children and grandchildren by establishing an Opportunity Fund to sustain the Center for Children and Families. The center promotes positive child development through research, practice and community outreach. The Gosslees were motivated to support the Center for Children and Families because of the difference the outreach programs make in the community. They believe that their support of the center will help provide critical information to families, schools and public policy.
As dean of the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS) since 1989, Dr. Bert Moore enjoys watching all of "the wonderful work done" by faculty on behalf of students, he said. During that time, the number of major research centers affiliated with the school has increased from one to four. Moore, the Aage and Margareta Møller Distinguished Professor, says one of the highlights of being at UT Dallas is watching faculty develop exciting new knowledge and provide service to the community. Moore also takes pride in BBS' top-ranked student training programs, research that explores areas spanning from infant development to the aging brain and a variety of programs that serve thousands of members of the community annually. Moore created an Opportunity Fund to support these current efforts and to contribute toward their sustainability.
Carrie Kelleher BS'96 is an entrepreneur and adjunct faculty member in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences at UT Dallas. Named the Most Outstanding Graduate of the UT Dallas Economics Program, Carrie worked for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas before moving to positions in both the corporate and nonprofit worlds. Her most recent venture is based on a business plan she wrote while still a student at UT Dallas. In 2011, Carrie opened Coffee House Cafe in Dallas. She hopes it will be a welcoming spot for customers and a support for the nonprofit organization Coffee Kids.
Amorn and Bill PhD’93 Krenik established an Opportunity Fund to celebrate their sons. Thomas Krenik completed a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering at UT Dallas and is pursuing a master’s. The Kreniks’ other son, Matthew, participated in research projects at the Natural Science and Engineering Research Lab as a high school student and will be a freshman at UT Dallas in fall 2011. Bill and Thomas are both engineers at Texas Instruments, where Bill serves as CTO in one of the analog business units. Bill is also a member of the Industrial Advisory Board for the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. Through the family's relationship with UT Dallas, the Kreniks have seen firsthand the benefit the University brings to North Texas. Amorn and Bill hope that their Opportunity Fund will help UT Dallas grow and continue to serve the community.
Krish Prabhu is a frequent visitor to the campus and longtime supporter of UT Dallas. He is a life member of the Development Board and a past board chair. Krish holds the distinction of establishing the first Opportunity Fund, designating his support to the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. After completing a bachelor of science degree in physics from Bangalore University and a master of science degree in physics from the Indian Institute of Technology, Krish studied electrical engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. At Pittsburgh, he earned an MSEE in 1977 and a PhD in 1980. Krish received the school’s distinguished alumni award in 2001. He has had an extensive career in the telecommunications industry, starting with technical positions at AT&T’s Bell Labs and Rockwell International, and more recently with senior management roles at Alcatel-Lucent. After a brief run in the venture capital industry at Morgenthaler Ventures, Krish joined Chicago-based Tellabs in 2004 as president and CEO, a position he held until 2008. He was named president and CEO of AT&T Labs in 2011.
Dr. Mark Spong, dean of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, and his wife, Lila, were committed to creating one of the first Opportunity Funds. Lila and Mark, the Lars Magnus Ericsson Chair in Electrical Engineering and the Excellence in Education Chair, believe that educational excellence should be recognized. As a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Lila was inducted into the Bronze Tablet Club. Each year, the University of Illinois hangs a new bronze tablet listing graduates who have at least a 3.5 cumulative GPA through the academic term prior to graduation, and rank in the top 3 percent of the students in their graduating class. To honor this tradition and the motivation it inspired in their lives, Mark and Lila wanted to start a similar custom in ECS.
The Bronze Tablet Opportunity Fund will endow an annual award to one or more ECS graduating seniors based on GPA and recommendations by faculty. Award winners will have their names permanently displayed on a plaque outside of the Texas Instruments Auditorium.
Mark and Lila said they hope that their Opportunity Fund will not only inspire student excellence but also will benefit future deans of ECS.
Garry C. Miller Jr. BS'07 studied finance and economics at the University. A National Merit quarterfinalist, Miller received a full scholarship and is a member of the second class of the Academic Bridge Program (ABP). After completing an internship with Alcatel-Lucent, he took an analyst position with Dell Perot Systems. Miller then went on to lead United Natural Foods, Inc. through several supply chain initiatives, including a return to Texas to open a new distribution center in Lancaster. He currently works as an AGILE project manager at Fidelity Investments. Miller said he decided to establish the Bridge to our Future Opportunity Fund as a way to honor the great leaders and mentors who helped chart a path for him through his days at the University. Since earning a master's degree in engineering and operations management at the University of New Haven, Miller has an even stronger sense of gratitude to Academic Bridge. The program helped instill in participants a standard of excellence and fostered a culture of achievement, he said. "As iron sharpens iron, we too, as a collective body, push and motivate each other to attain higher levels and reach for our potential. May this endowment serve as a supporting beam in this essential bridge enabling future students to step forward into their destiny."
Debi BS’94 and George Carter wanted to make a meaningful contribution in support of the Naveen Jindal School of Management’s new real estate program. After Debi become one of the first female partners in a commercial real estate development firm in Dallas, she felt compelled to help pave the way for others in the industry. The couple established the Debi and George Carter Opportunity Fund for Real Estate, the first endowed fund in support of the new program. Debi serves as executive vice president at Hudson Peters Commercial, and George is president of Omega Prototypes Inc.
As both an employee and alumnus of UT Dallas, Dr. Kyle Edgington PhD ’13 wanted to give back to the University that has provided him with so many opportunities. He serves as director of the Executive Certificate in Fundraising program and is professor of organizations, strategy and international management at the Naveen Jindal School of Management. He and his wife, Jill, hope to provide opportunities for future students through the establishment of the Edgington Family Opportunity Fund. Providing unrestricted funding was important to Edgington, who worked closely with the dean of the Jindal School for many years. He saw firsthand how critical it is for the dean to respond to unexpected needs with unrestricted funding. Additionally, this gift gave the Edgington family a chance to put their name on something they can continue to support through the years, while being a part of the Realize the Vision campaign today.
Bob Hewlett BS'82 established the first Opportunity Fund for the Naveen Jindal School of Management (JSOM) to reflect his appreciation for his educational experience at UT Dallas. From 1953-58, he served in the U.S. Air Force as a Special Agent in the Office of Special Investigations. A 30-year career in the petroleum industry in plant operations and consulting followed, and since retiring, Bob has served as president and treasurer of the Hunt Oil Retirees group. In 2001, he was honored as a Distinguished Alumnus by JSOM, where he has served as a mentor to students in the Cohort MBA program. Bob was awarded the University’s Green and Orange Award for Alumni Service in 2009. He served as an executive committee member of the University’s former alumni association and the association’s historian. Bob said the support of his wife, Gloria Martin Hewlett, EdD, has been vital to all his endeavors at UT Dallas.
Dr. Randy Guttery knows firsthand the impact financial contributions have on students and faculty alike. In his dual role at the Jindal School as director of real estate programs and clinical professor of finance and managerial economics, he understands that financial support is needed to ensure forward momentum and future success. That is why he established an opportunity fund benefiting real estate programs. He wanted to directly help his students while supporting the University’s goal to become a Tier One institution.
Steve Lyle is the director of education, workforce development and diversity for Texas Instruments. Steve’s responsibilities include K-12 education, overall worldwide university collaboration and various diversity and inclusive initiatives across the company. He holds double degrees from Western Kentucky University in information technology and office administration and is a graduate of the Human Resource Strategic Leadership course at the University of Michigan and the Strategic Negotiations course at Harvard University. Steve serves on the board of directors for the Texas Business and Education Coalition and has a long history of working with universities. He is a member of the Industrial Advisory Board for the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, the Naveen Jindal School of Management Advisory Council, which he chaired from 2006-08, and the UT Dallas Development Board. He also served on Texas Tech University’s Management Information Science Advisory Board, as a faculty affiliate in Tech’s College of Business, and as a member of Southern Methodist University’s Career Development Advisory Board.
Clint BS’00, MS‘02 and Lacey Miller BA’08 met during a weekend vacation in 2007 and were married two years later in New York City where they both lived. After Lacey received an MBA from the San Francisco Institute of Architecture, she was inspired to work at a green technology firm. Today, the couple lives in Austin where their passions include entrepreneurship within the rapidly growing tech community and working with local charities. Clint serves as a director of customer solutions at Lattice Engines and Lacey is the customer relations and content manager at Noesis Energy. When not hard at work, the couple dedicates their time to philanthropic organizations in Austin such as I Live Here, I Give Here, Citizen Generation, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. Clint and Lacey agree that their experiences at UT Dallas have brought great value to their careers, which was their motivation for establishing an opportunity fund. The couple wanted to give back to the University that helped set their lives in motion.
Kevin Ryan MBA’95 attributes part of his professional success, including at his current position as CFO of Merit Energy Co., to his educational experiences. He and his wife, Cristi, initially earned accounting degrees from The University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business in 1984. Kevin followed up his bachelor’s degree with an MBA from the Naveen Jindal School of Management. Today, Kevin, Cristi and their two children live close to campus, where Kevin is still active. He serves on both the Jindal School Advisory Council and The University of Texas System Chancellor’s Council Executive Committee.
Dean Kyle established the Henry Schein Dental Opportunity Fund after meeting students in the Naveen Jindal School of Management’s professional sales concentration. Kyle, a zone general manager for Henry Schein Dental, was impressed by the caliber of talent produced at the Jindal School and wanted to help support the professional sales concentration. Kyle knew by investing in sales education at the Jindal School, Henry Schein Dental would also be investing in future leaders of the sales industry. Through financial support from the Henry Schein Dental Opportunity Fund, the professional sales concentration continues to grow and develop talented sales students.
Before Jefflyn Williamson found success in commercial real estate, she was an undergraduate student eager to find her place in the business world. Thanks to the faculty and staff at UT Dallas, she now enjoys a thriving career in brokerage, development and acquisitions, including managing a majority of Ebby Halliday’s commercial holdings.
In an effort to ensure future students enjoy the same quality education she was afforded, Jefflyn established the Jefflyn Williamson Opportunity Fund for the Naveen Jindal School of Management.
For Williamson, her decision to establish an Opportunity Fund for the Jindal School of Management is also an investment in the success of the region as it will allow the School to continue its ascendancy to becoming a Tier One research institution.
Kelly Ann Drake BS’03, MS’04, PhD’08 was an outstanding physics student who touched the lives of many who knew her during her eight years at UT Dallas. She began her undergraduate classes in 2000 and became active in the Society of Physics Students. After completing a bachelor’s degree, Drake entered the graduate physics program to study space sciences under Dr. Rod Heelis, the director of UT Dallas’ William B. Hanson Center for Space Sciences.
Later, she helped found UT Dallas Women in Physics (WiP) to provide support and encouragement to female physics students. Drake and fellow students led the creation of the first WiP Physics Camp for Girls in 2004. The camp has been held every summer since, and provides middle school girls with a week of hands-on science education. Drake’s passion for encouraging women to pursue careers in science was exemplified by the energy she invested in creating and running the camp for the first four years of its existence.
The Kelly Ann Drake Opportunity Fund for the Department of Science/Mathematics Education was established to honor her memory and to support the continuing existence of the physics camp so that more young women will be encouraged to pursue careers in science.
Long before Dr. James R. Dixon PhD’80 became a geological advisor for ExxonMobil Exploration Company, he honed his chops at UT Dallas. Jim credits his experience at the University as helping to lay the foundation for a successful 20-year career. In 1975, both Jim and his wife, Selena, enrolled in the UT Dallas Geosciences graduate program. As a student, he taught geology classes at Eastfield College and interned for a summer at Mobil Oil’s research lab in Dallas. Pleased with his work, Mobil hired Jim to conduct research on the origin of uranium deposits, the characterization of sandstone oil reservoirs, and the fluid flow behavior of reservoir rocks. When Mobil merged with Exxon in the late 1990s, Jim moved his family to the Houston area so he could join ExxonMobil’s Upstream Research Company. Later, Jim transferred to ExxonMobil Exploration Company, where he teaches, mentors and oversees core analysis for worldwide exploration projects. He is a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers and the Society of Core Analysts. Jim is a past recipient of the UT Dallas Distinguished Alumni Award. In his spare time, he volunteers as a community firefighter.
This fund was established by Gerard “Neil” C. Gaynor PhD ’91 to expand the learning and research that takes place in the Department of Geosciences. As a graduate of UT Dallas, Gaynor firmly believes that education is a great investment and provides the greatest returns, both financially and intellectually. The motivation for creating this fund arose from Gaynor’s rewarding experiences within the geosciences program. He said that the knowledge and experiences he gained were monumental. Gaynor emphasized that his interaction with faculty and fellow students was the basis for his successful career in the oil and gas business. He also said that it was with a sense of gratitude that he created this fund to provide educational opportunities for the future.
This fund was established by Dr. John W. Geissman, a professor in the Department of Geosciences, and his wife, Molly, to further earth science education. Geissman, who received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in geology from the University of Michigan, has worked at UT Dallas since 2011. With support from UT Dallas and the STARS program, Geissman has helped resurrect the University’s paleomagnetic research laboratory. The laboratory is home to several graduate and undergraduate students who engage in a multitude of research projects. Geissman is also interested in rock magnetism and currently studies controls on magnetic fabrics in a wide range of intrusive and extrusive igneous rocks. As an enthusiastic supporter of science education and a past-president of the Geological Society of America, Geissman is focused on conveying the importance of science on a societal level.
Lynn BA'79 and Tom McIntire are certified financial planners who live in Dallas. Tom is a Harvard University graduate who started his planning business in 1992 following a successful overseas career in the oil services industry. Lynn joined him as a partner after having served for several years as a vice president for First Tennessee Brokerage Inc.
Lynn's first position after graduating from UT Dallas was in a research lab at UT Southwestern Medical Center. She then worked in pharmaceutical sales and later held a development position for the Easter Seals in Fort Worth. Lynn and Tom reconnected in 1995 at their 20-year reunion at Richardson High School. While getting acquainted again, Tom discovered that Lynn would be an excellent investment planner, and he encouraged her to consider a second career.
Lynn has two sons. Chris graduated from Texas Tech University in Lubbock and David from The University of Texas at Austin. The McIntires are also the proud owners of a goldendoodle named Chewie.
Tom and Lynn are firm believers in philanthropy and commit their time and income to favorite charities each year. Lynn served on the board of UT Dallas' former alumni organization and still wears her class ring. The McIntires' careers in financial planning have illustrated to them the importance of long-term investments, which is why they continue to invest in UT Dallas. In addition to their outright gift, they have arranged for another gift, through their estate plans, to benefit their Opportunity Fund.
In honor of Dr. Myron B. Salamon's retirement as dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (NSM) in 2011, President David E. Daniel created the Myron B. Salamon Opportunity Fund. Salamon served as dean for five years. Prior to joining UT Dallas, Salamon led a distinguished 40-year career at the University of Illinios at Urbana-Champaign.
An Opportunity Fund created by Dan Schwartz PhD'78 will help University students with field work and "get their hands on some rocks," he said. As a geologist, many of Schwartz's best memories and significant realizations came to him in the field. At UT Dallas, he spent time fording the Red River to gather samples for his dissertation, traveling in Mexico to help a fellow graduate student with samples, and going to West Texas and New Mexico to help Geosciences Professor Emeritus James Carter with collections. Field work was critical to Schwartz's understanding of geology. During his 34 year career as a geologist at Shell Oil Co., he performed the same type of analyses and interpretation, whether assessing surface exposures, developing reservoir models for appraisal and development or running training courses for students. Schwartz said UT Dallas students should see as many outcrops as they can and invoked the old adage, "the best geologist is the one that has seen the most rocks."
With the start of the fall 2012 semester, Dr. Dean Sherry completed his 40th year as a faculty member at UT Dallas. To celebrate, he established an Opportunity Fund to support the Chemistry Department. "The changes I’ve seen at UT Dallas over the course of four decades have been remarkable," Sherry said. "Establishing an Opportunity Fund seemed a fitting way to give back since it will support the Chemistry Department forever." Sherry holds the Cecil H. and Ida Green Distinguished Chair in Systems Biology Science. He also holds a joint appointment as a professor of radiology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, where he serves as director of the Advanced Imaging Research Center. Dr. Cindy Sherry, who also has deep ties to the University, shares in her husband's milestone. She earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1978 from UT Dallas, and went on to an accomplished career in radiology. She is chair and medical director of the department of radiology at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas and a managing partner for Southwest Diagnostic Imaging Center. She was recognized by UT Dallas in 2009 with the Distinguished Alumni Award. "Both Cindy and I have had great careers, and UT Dallas has played a big role in our lives," Sherry said. "We've witnessed firsthand the progress toward becoming a Tier One research university and see the impact it’s beginning to have in this community."
Qingming Yang PhD'93 said he established an Opportunity Fund to thank UT Dallas for providing him with a great education and its support of him as a student and research scientist. Now executive vice president of business development and geosciences at Approach Resources Inc., Yang said he is proud to be an alumnus of the Geosciences Department and to be part of a University that has produced astronauts, distinguished scientists, outstanding administrators, entrepreneurs, corporate executives and industry leaders. In order to continue this outstanding tradition and to drive UT Dallas to even greater heights as a Tier One university, Yang said he hopes to encourage other alumni to be inspired by his gift and create Opportunity Funds of their own.
Dr. Anvar Zakhidov and his wife, Nadira, celebrated both his 60th birthday and his career at UT Dallas by establishing an Opportunity Fund to benefit the Physics Department and the Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute.
Zakhidov is known for his landmark advancements in nanotechnology, photonics and the physics of solar energy devices. He joined UT Dallas in 2001 to co-found, with Dr. Ray Baughman, the MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute where Zakhidov is the associate director.
“As a young scientist, I received a lot of support from the university where I studied, from the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, and from various foundations worldwide, including some in Japan and Italy,” said Dr. Zakhidov. “Now I want to give back to students and researchers so that they will have the opportunity to participate in international workshops and conferences like I did, and to expand their research to new areas.”
Nadira is a longtime UT Dallas staff member who has served as a web specialist at the Eugene McDermott Library for more than 10 years. She recently received her second master’s degree, this one in library science. The Zakhidovs were inspired by colleague Dr. Dean Sherry, who, along with his wife, Dr. Cindy Sherry BS’78, rang in his 40th year as a UT Dallas faculty member by establishing an Opportunity Fund for the Chemistry Department in 2012.
The Geosciences Alumni Energy Opportunity Fund was created by five generous alumni who work at Pioneer Natural Resources. David Williamson BS'98, MS'02, MS'03, Kevin Woller MS'01, Rob Hull MS'94, Neil Basu MS'06 and Sherrie Pena MS'05 made gifts that were matched by Pioneer's matching gift program. The fund supports projects, grants or equipment acquisitions that further research and benefit the petroleum industry. The alumni said they were inspired to give by the University's Tier One aspirations, the growth of the Geosciences Department and by recent faculty hires. Their hope is that the Geosciences Department is on a trajectory to becoming a Tier One geosciences program in North Texas. They encourage other alumni to pool their financial, intellectual and network resources to aid in the continued growth of the Department.