The University of Texas at San Antonio
In 1965, prominent San Antonians Lutcher and Emily Wells Brown deeded their beautiful 25-acre estate, Oak Court, to The University of Texas System Board of Regents, who later designated it for the benefit of the newly created University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). Almost 40 years later, this generous gift is one of the catalysts moving UTSA toward its goal of premier research university status.
The Lutcher Brown Endowment for Academic Excellence, created in 1983 through the sale of Oak Court, has long supported a broad range of activities at UTSA, and in 2003, President Ricardo Romo pledged $7 million of the endowment's corpus to fund seven new Lutcher Brown Distinguished Chairs. The endowments are invested in the Long Term Fund.
What do the chairs mean for UTSA? "At most universities, faculty who are truly distinguished in their field are attracted by resources that enable them to do some creative and different things," says Dr. Guy Bailey, UTSA Executive Vice President and Provost. "The endowed chairs provide the financial resources and the flexibility to help us recruit and retain some very outstanding scholars."
Within the next two years, Dr. Bailey envisions all seven chairs filled with nationally renowned faculty, a goal UTSA has already begun to reach with its first Lutcher Brown chair. Dr. Steve Murdock, Texas' state demographer and an internationally known scholar, joined the university in January 2004 as holder of the Lutcher Brown Distinguished Chair in Management Science and Statistics. He is also director of the newly created Institute for Demographic and Socioeconomic Research.
While most endowed chairs are designated for specific areas of study, the Lutcher Brown Chairs were created to provide flexibility in recruiting outstanding scholars to programs throughout the university. "What the Lutcher Brown chairs give us is the flexibility of going out and hiring the top people in the country regardless of area, and that's what we did with Steve Murdock," says Dr. Bailey. "That is why it was so important. Without the availability of this distinguished chair, we would not have gotten Steve Murdock."
The number of endowed positions available is one of the distinguishing features of a research university, according to Dr. Bailey, and endowed chairs and professorships have a ripple effect on the university. A scholar who fills an endowed position brings ongoing research funding to the university, strengthening UTSA's teaching and research efforts and increasing its positive economic impact on the city and region.
As important as the endowed chairs are to UTSA, alone they are not enough. "You cannot hire a scientist without having a research lab for him or her to work in," says Dr. Bailey. The seven Lutcher Brown Distinguished Chairs and the new $87 million Biotechnology, Sciences and Engineering Building, which is scheduled for completion in 2005, have given UTSA a double lure for topflight faculty.
"The combination of research labs and endowed chairs will help us hire some of the best faculty in the country," says Dr. Bailey. "Without both, it couldn't happen."