Category Archives: Development

Benson a la Mexicana

When I first walked into the Benson Latin American Collection to do research during my graduate studies, I did not imagine that four years later my boss would ask me to travel to Mexico City to represent the Benson and University of Texas Libraries at an awards ceremony with the mayor of Mexico City and a luncheon hosted by the Libraries for Texas Exes in Mexico. And now, it has been a week since arriving back from Mexico City and I still cannot believe I did it. And I have not really recuperated from the journey. Oh, believe me, it was a wonderful trip, just way too fast and cut way too short.

David Block receives the Medalla 1808 from Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard.

When Dr. David Block received electronic word (in an e-mail) of the Benson being awarded the Medalla 1808, I don’t know if we all realized immediately what an honor it was. Then after an exhaustive search online to make sure David had not just received an e-mail from Ed McMahon suggesting “you may be a millionaire”, we began to see the reality of and the potential in receiving such an honor. Historically, the medal is presented on behalf of Mexico City to persons for significant contributions to the study and development of Mexican history and culture. And now, the Benson has become the first foreign institutional recipient of the medal.  Wow… Of course we all knew the importance of the Benson, but now Mexico City Mayor, Marcelo Ebrard would present us with an international honor to reinforce what we all know to be true.

Our Vice Provost Dr. Fred Heath and Director for Development Gregory Perrin knew this would be a wonderful opportunity to invite our alumni from Mexico City, and the surrounding cities, to attend the ceremony. They decided it would also be quite advantageous to host a luncheon following. And this is where I came in. Part of the role I play in working for the Libraries is as an event coordinator. I love it because of the opportunities of excitement that abound, meeting new people and creating a delightful atmosphere for the libraries’ constituent; although, a first trip to the interior of Mexico and hosting a lunch would definitely be something extraordinary. Continue reading Benson a la Mexicana

Of Pioneers and Memories

iStock_000000153645XSmallDuring the hectic weekday morning routine most of us call normal these days, an obituary in the Austin American Statesman begged my attention. Sgt. Major Mary Katherine Steinocher died June 25th. I didn’t know her, but the picture of a young, smiling woman wearing her Women’s Army Corps uniform compelled me to put down my toasted bagel and read on.

In short, Steinocher was a young woman who enlisted in the Army’s WAC program in 1941 and retired in May 1964. Almost 24 years of military service was condensed into a brief sentence, a modest footnote: “She received many medals, awards, and decorations in the service of her country”. It seems to me Sgt. Steinocher was a pioneer, serving in the military during a time when it really didn’t know what to do with women wanting to serve their country.

It got me thinking about my grandmother, Louise Jackman Orner. She was a pioneer of another sort – a 1921 graduate of Oregon State University (OSU), She went on to become an associate professor of secretarial science at OSU, at a time when society didn’t really know what to do with women wanting professional careers. Another full and complete life, condensed into another brief sentence: “After teaching at Centralia Business College, she became an associate professor in Secretarial Science at Oregon State University, a position she held for 35 years”.

My family created a memorial scholarship at Oregon State to honor Louise. We all feel a connectedness to the institution that my grandmother loved so dearly. We also feel connected to the generations of students her scholarship has supported. I’ll even admit to becoming a bit undone this morning when revisiting the OSU website to see Grandma’s name among the many memorial scholarships noted. It’s as if she hasn’t really left us – her spirit and love of education continue on today, nearly 30 years to the day since her death.

My profession allows me the honor of talking with people who wish to memorialize their loved ones with a gift to the University of Texas Libraries. I tell them their gift will come back to them a thousand times over. I tell them it will keep the name and memories of their loved one fresh and new. If asked, I will tell them it is because of a memorial scholarship created in loving memory of my grandmother, a pioneer.

Plonsky Scores Trailblazer Award

plonsky_chris_2009_mugUT Women’s Athletic Director and incoming Libraries Advisory Council President Chris Plonsky is the recipient of the College Sports Information Directors of America’s (CoSIDA) 2010 Trailblazer Award.

According to the CoSIDA website, the Trailblazer Award is given “to an individual who is a pioneer in the field of sports information who has mentored and helped improve the level of ethnic and gender diversity within CoSIDA.”

Plonsky will receive her award at the CoSIDA convention in San Francisco on July 6.

Chris has served on the Libraries Advisory Council since 2006, assuming the role of Vice-President in 2007. She will take up the role of President in fall 2010 and will continue to advise the Libraries in their marketing, outreach and fundraising efforts.

You can read more about Plonsky’s award here, where you’ll find a great profile of her by former Longhorn Assistant Athletics Director and current sports broadcaster Bill Little.

Our congratulations to Chris on this much deserved honor.

Wanna buy an 8-track?

iStock_000010319628SmallA very timely article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed discussing endowment spending today. Do universities  “spend enough of their endowments for society’s benefit to justify the tax exemption they get”?  Senator Charles Grassley is pushing for legislation requiring universities to spend a minimum 5% of their endowment income annually. His solution is a one-size-fits-all answer to a complex situation that has evolved over many years.

The Libraries benefit from a modest but growing number of endowments.  But is our endowment portfolio big enough to continue to support the increasing costs of growing and maintaining world-class collections?  Not by a long shot.  Endowments for collection enhancement, electronic resources, and preservation activities play a key role in maintaining an academic library’s pivotal place in the lives of students, faculty, and researchers.

It isn’t all about the size of the endowment.  In the case of the Libraries, and for many other academic libraries in the US, the endowment’s specific spending guidelines can have a huge impact.  Continue reading Wanna buy an 8-track?

Libraries launch online wish list

texlibris_wishlistMaking a wish is easy, but getting it fulfilled takes…well it takes you!

The University of Texas Libraries invites you to help us build our library collection by picking an item on our online wish list.

I talk with people all the time about supporting our library. Many of them feel that libraries are very important, but they never think to put their money where their passion is. And when they do they feel that their $150, $400 or $ 1,000 is not really enough to make a difference in the lives of our students and faculty.

The truth is that $150 does make a difference. In the next year, the University of Texas Libraries will add more than 100,000 books to its collection, which will support the learning, research and knowledge of our 50,000 students and Continue reading Libraries launch online wish list

Yes, we’re all getting older – time to make (estate) plans

texlibris_estate_planningLast month the University’s Gift Planning unit conducted two estate planning seminars, geared towards women age 40+ who had made past gifts to the University.  Provided at no cost to the participants, and featuring local estate planning attorneys and specialists, these seminars were conceived as a way to present the concept of estate planning (and hopefully, subsequent estate gifts to the University) in a setting somewhat more relaxed than your normal estate attorney’s office.

In theory, an excellent idea, thoughtfully planned and carefully executed.  In reality, a surprisingly small turnout of women, a handful of men accompanying a few of them, and it seemed the attendance was trending more towards an older demographic.  I was surprised to see so few relatively young women in attendance.  And it got me to thinking about another trend I’ve noticed. Continue reading Yes, we’re all getting older – time to make (estate) plans