Transformation - 2008 President's Report

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The Urgency of Now - 2008 President's Report

Dedication to Higher Education and Gratitude to Their Alma Mater Fuel Couple's Gifts

Robert Gaitan ('92) and Barbara Peet ('86)

Thirteen-year-old Destiny Gaitan is impressed with UT Arlington. She enjoys visits to the Maverick Activities Center, planetarium and library. She's even met former President Wendell Nedderman, the first person she's known with a street named for him.

You could say we're immersing her in UT Arlington culture, said Barbara Peet (MBA '86), director of the University's Career Services.

Peet and husband Robert Gaitan (CSE '92) unexpectedly became guardians of Destiny, their niece, five years ago and have enjoyed the challenges and rewards of raising her.

Destiny's presence not only has changed their everyday lives, but also how the couple gives to UT Arlington. They began contributing to the University in 1999 after endowing a scholarship in honor of Peet's parents for community college students in Maryland. Then we looked at our own alma mater and knew we would not be where we are today if we hadn't gotten a great college education, Peet said.

The couple are members of the 1895 Society, which recognizes contributions of at least $1,000 annually. Gaitan's employer of 13 years, Nokia, Inc., matches his donations to the University. It allows us to make more of an impact, he said.

Peet and Gaitan give to the College of Business and College of Engineering because of their respective degrees and began giving to the College of Education after they became custodians for Destiny in 2004.

Raised by a single mother, Gaitan was expected to go to college. She knew my ticket out was through education, he said. The assumption was that you will go to college, and we'll find a way. That didn't hit home until we had a child to care for.

Destiny brought education to our attention when she began struggling with subjects in third grade. We saw how important teachers were to her success and wanted to see the impact of our gifts helping prepare teachers for the vocation.

By providing funding now, Peet and Gaitan hope they will see positive changes in the future, especially for Destiny.

For her, not going to college won't be an option, Gaitan said, but we want her to have choices about where she goes.

Perhaps she'll follow in the footsteps of her aunt and uncle.