When Peggy and John Marlowe moved to Richardson over 35 years ago, The University of Texas at Dallas was just a few buildings among empty fields — hardly the bustling campus it is today. Nevertheless, it held an attraction for the University’s new neighbors.
“There was nothing there,” Peggy said. “But we still used to go up to UTD and walk around.”
At the time, UT Dallas had yet to admit its first classes of freshman and sophomores. Primarily a graduate school, any undergraduates who enrolled at UT Dallas were commuter students transferring from other local colleges.
As the years passed, the Marlowes watched UT Dallas grow in their own backyard, and began to feel a resonance between the University’s history and their own experiences in higher education.
Peggy grew up in south and east Texas. When she graduated from high school, attending college was not an immediate possibility, so she took a secretarial job in hopes of returning to school to become a teacher. After 10 years, Peggy was able to begin commuting to UT Tyler, where she eventually earned her teaching certification. She would later earn a master’s degree at Texas Woman’s University in preparation for work as an educational diagnostician.
John grew up in Tyler, the youngest of three children raised by a single mother.
“We were not poor, but not far from it,” John said. “My mother worked, and I worked from the time I was 12. I knew college wasn’t an option for me without working.”
John supported himself through two years at Tyler Junior College before transferring to Baylor University with the help of a fellowship. Between his personal income and the school’s financial aid, John was able to finish his degree.
The couple saw their own experiences reflected in the lives of the students Peggy taught in Richland College’s teacher preparation program.
“I saw students who were barely able to afford community college,” Peggy said. “The students I got to know all wanted to be teachers, so I could identify with them. I remember how it felt, when you feel like you are being called to be a teacher and yet you can’t do it.”
John and Peggy knew that these students were giving everything they had to pursue their educations. But they also understood that attempting to balance work and school has a detrimental effect on student outcomes.
“You can’t do both,” John said. “You can’t have the full college experience and also work. If there’s a way to make that situation more manageable for other people, we would like to be a part of that.”
Peggy and John found a way to help similar students when they began planning for their estate. The couple has documented a bequest at UT Dallas that will endow the John and Peggy Marlowe Scholarship. Their gift will support students transferring to UT Dallas from community colleges who aspire to teaching careers.
Establishing a planned gift allowed the couple to impact student lives and maintain financial security for their own futures.
“Although we are not actually funding the scholarship today, we have made plans to make a difference for students after we are gone,” Peggy said. “We hope others who may not currently be in a position to donate will consider this option, too.”
Of all the local universities that could have benefited from their generosity, UT Dallas was the natural fit for the couple’s plans.
“We’re a neighbor,” Peggy said. “Watching UT Dallas grow has been like watching one of your kids grow.”
The couple appreciates the opportunities that UT Dallas makes available for local students to better themselves through world-class academic programs. In the fall of 2018 alone, almost 2,000 transfer students enrolled at the University.
“There are so many exciting things happening at UTD,” John said. “Why wouldn’t you go there if you could?”
The Marlowes try to get to campus when they can for concerts, speakers and other community events, especially when UT Dallas’ basketball team plays UT Tyler, Peggy’s alma mater.
“I never lose!” Peggy boasted.
Even off campus, the couple sees the benefits of having UT Dallas as a neighbor.
“The University brings in individuals from so many different cultures,” Peggy said. “I love seeing students from around the world at the grocery store, restaurants and other neighborhood businesses. We have so much to learn from each other.”