The University of Texas at Austin has received a $60 million gift from John and Miriam Mulva, one of the largest gifts in the school’s history. The donation will go toward two major building projects, including the school’s proposed Engineering Education and Research Center.
According to UT Austin President Bill Powers, $20 million will go toward the new Engineering Education and Research Center, while the other $40 million will go toward renovations of two buildings in the McCombs School of Business, pending project approval by the Board of Regents. The entire sum of money will be paid at a rate of three million over the next 20 years.
UT President Powers says the gift is especially important for the Engineering Center, since it will help the university raise $105 million from private donors to pay for construction of the $310 million Engineering Center.
“We’re going now on that building. It will help meet our philanthropic goals and therefore the matching money we get from the Board of Regents from the Permanent University Fund money," said President Powers.
The Mulvas' gift will help build the James J. and Miriam B. Mulva Auditorium and Conference Center in the EERC, which can seat nearly 300 people.
The donation comes at an important time for the university as it looks to private donations to help build the Engineering Center. During the last legislative session, lawmakers failed to pass a bill that would provide funding for capital projects at public universities in the state. The bill would’ve allocated $95 million toward the Engineering Center. Legislators re-filed the bill in the three subsequent special sessions, but Governor Rick Perry didn’t add it to the agenda.
While Powers says the university is increasingly relying on donations like this one, it can’t be the university’s only option when it comes to buildings and facilities.
“We still need public support--both legislative support and permanent university support--for our capital projects," he says.
The Mulva Family Foundation isn't new to UT Austin’s donor list. In 2010, the Foundation donated $15 million to the Liberal Arts Building, which includes a floor for the university's ROTC programs.
Mulva is the former CEO and Chairman of ConocoPhilips and Naval ROTC graduate of UT, where he received his bachelors and masters degrees. He also served in the Navy in Bahrain with President Powers in the early 1970's, a friendship the two say they've rekindled in the past decade.
Mulva says he and his wife wanted to help the university fund the most important projects, and simply asked former Engineering Dean and now Provost, Greg Fenves, and President Powers.
“[Powers] said, 'Well, we now have a medical school, but we have big programs we want to do in the Engineering school and Business school. And I said, 'Well we’d like to help out on those two important initiatives,'" Mulva recalled.
The donation comes almost exactly one year after the Dell family foundation donated $50 million toward the university's medical school, which is expected to open in the next two to three years.
President Powers says he hopes the new EERC will be complete by 2017.