Education
6:24 am
Mon October 21, 2013

UT College of Communication Receives $50 Million Donation, New Name

The College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin will soon have a new name – the Moody College of Communication.

The Moody Foundation is donating $50 million to the college, the largest donation in the college’s history.

The donation will be paid out over 10 years and will fund various initiatives, including a $10 million innovation fund and $13 million for graduate student recruitment and retention.

Money will also be used to build a sky bridge across Dean Keeton Street to link the Belo Center for New Media and the Jesse H. Jones Communication Center. UT will provide an extra $5 million to improve classroom space and facilities, which includes the sky bridge.

“It is an honor to welcome this great Texas family into the pantheon of the university’s most historically important donors,” UT-Austin President Bill Powers said.

The University of Texas at Austin holds the license for KUT.

The Moody donation underscores a gradual change in higher education funding. The state has continually slashed college budgets over the last few years. The Texas Legislature cut $1.7 billion from higher education in 2011, according Lyndon Baines Johnson Center for Politics and Governance.

UT officials have had to crank up their fundraising efforts to make up for lost state funding. To put it in perspective, in 1985 the state funded almost half of UT’s budget. But state appropriations only made up 13 percent of UT’s budget in the 2013-2014 academic year.

It must be noted that university budgets have grown drastically over the past thirty years. UT’s has grown from $503 million in 1985 to $2.38 billion in 2013.

Officials say fundraising has become integral to university activities. Roderick Hart, dean of the College of Communication, has secured at least two major donations for the college during his time as dean.

Along with the Moody donation, Hart secured $15 million for the Belo Center for New Media, which opened last year.

“Fundraising is a tremendous part of my job. I spend well more than half of my time concerned and worried about raising money,” Hart said. “Tuition increases have not come in as frequently as we have hoped. It’s caused us to have to reach out and depend more on our friends to keep things going.”

The numbers show UT has a lot of friends.

The university has raised nearly $2.2 billion of its eight-year, $3 billion capital fundraising campaign. In August, UT announced it broke its own fundraising record for the year.

Earlier this year, the Dell Foundation announced a $60 million donation to UT’s medical school. It will be named in honor of the founding family, Michael and Susan Dell.  

Gregory Fenves, UT’s executive vice president and provost, is no stranger to the importance of fundraising. Until recently, Fenves served as the dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering, which is working to build a new building. Donors pledged $65 million in gifts to help construct the new building.

Fenves says financial support is crucial to providing a good education.

“It is part of the way we do business,” Fenves said. “For large public universities like the University of Texas, (fundraising) is relatively new. We haven’t been doing major fundraising for more than 20 years, maybe since the mid-80s. If you look at the private schools, they’ve been doing it for 100 years.”

While fundraising can help a college get its wish list, officials said it does not mean UT’s need for more funding has diminished. For instance, Hart said the money from the Moody Foundation would not help him hire more faculty to teach classes since it will be paid over time and not be available immediately.

More importantly, time will pass, Hart said, and the college’s needs will grow and change.

“I think there will never be a time when the college is not always looking for the assistance of its friends and neighbors,” Hart said. “Our students will demand more, and we will continue to have to provide the best education for them.”

All initiatives include:

  • $10 million for an innovation fund, a so-called "idea fund" that will be used to support new curricula, research and student activities.
  • $5 million for department endowments. Each of the college's five departments, including advertising and public relations, communication studies, radio television and film, journalism and  communication sciences and disorders, will receive $1 million. 
  • $13 million for graduate student recruitment.
  • $7 million for undergraduate curricular and co-curricular work that will support learning inside and outside the classroom.
  • $10 million for the college's research and outreach centers. Ten centers of the college will receive $1 million endowments, including the Annette Straus Institute for Civic Life and the Denius-Sams Gaming Academy. 
  • $5 million for classroom space and facilities. Funds from this initiative will be used to renovate areas of the Jesse H. Jones Communication Center, create new lecture halls and create a sky bridge from the Jones Center to the Belo Center for New Media.