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UT Arlington Alumni Association endowment gift

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

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Media Contact: Kristin Sullivan, Office:817-272-5364, Cell:817-706-9811, kristinsul@uta.edu

In a show of support for The University of Texas at Arlington, the independent UT Arlington Alumni Association announces a major gift that will increase the University’s endowment by more than $2 million.

The gift means that $1 million previously held by the association for scholarship support will double in value through the University’s Maverick Match program, which uses natural gas royalties to encourage new endowment commitments and greater philanthropic support.

“This is the ultimate expression of support from the Alumni Association, and it couldn’t come at a better time,” UT Arlington President James D. Spaniolo said. “It reflects the deep commitment our alumni have to ensuring that their University ranks among the best in the world in supporting our students.”

The nonprofit UT Arlington Alumni Association dates to 1920 and has long focused on connecting alumni with their alma mater, supporting current students and enhancing students’ educational experience. The association encourages membership at a variety of levels, ranging from annual members to lifetime members who have made major commitments toward endowed funds that support scholarships.

The association currently supports 31 individual scholarships, many of which are awarded to promising freshmen and sophomores with a goal of encouraging students to stay on track and earn their undergraduate degrees, said Lora J. Malone, executive director for the UT Arlington Alumni Association.

“This gift really signals that members of our Alumni Association are aligned with the strategic mission of the University,” Malone said. “The association is focused on serving the institution and serving our students.”

Longtime Alumni Association supporters Thomas Wall Simmons (BS ’72) and Linda Blackwell Simmons (BA ’77) said the gift will strengthen key endowments, including the Simmons-Blackwell Endowed Scholarship that they established in the 1980s.

The couple initially was moved to create an endowed scholarship by friends and fellow UT Arlington supporters, Mr. Simmons said. But it is the ongoing connection with students that has kept the couple knitted to their alma mater, he said.

“Our scholar this year came by, and she was so appreciative,” Mr. Simmons said. “I told her, ‘You are so deserving,’ and she said, “I’m just a reflection of you.’ That was rewarding.”

Linda Simmons said such alumni support can provide the margin of excellence for UT Arlington and its students.

“All great universities have involved alumni and strong alumni associations,” she said.

UT Arlington leaders will celebrate the Alumni Association during the 46th Annual Distinguished Alumni Gala on Saturday evening, Oct. 15, at the E.H. Hereford University Center. Seven alumni will be honored with the award this year.

To join the UT Arlington Alumni Association, please visit http://utaalumni.org/.

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of 33,449 students in the heart of North Texas. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.

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The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.

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