Regent for UT system donates $25M to school of social work
- A regent for the University of Texas system has donated $25 million to the the UT School of Social Work in order to help alleviate debts for some social work students, calling social workers "heroes," according to the Dallas News.
- The UT system said the gift was among the largest ever given to a public social work school and announced the school would be named after Hicks. $10 million of the funding will be used for student scholarships, while $5 million will go towards matching funds to promote more donations and $10 million will be used to support research into treatment for addiction.
- Students tend to be about $45,000 in debt after leaving the UT School of Social Work, and Hicks expressed concern that this might dissuade qualified applicants who are worried that they will be weighted with too onerous a debt payment after school. He also saw the gift as a public expression of appreciation for those entering a difficult profession.
Hicks' support for the UT School of Social Work serves as a model for regents and board members across the country, who are not always focused on the need for board members to take an active role in fundraising for the institution. While not every individual board member may not be able to donate large gifts to the institution, it should be expected that every board member work with the president to help drive funds into the institution.
Experts contend that one of the best way to ensure continued strength of a school's endowment is to promote alumni giving, however enrollment challenges, coupled with a lack of social mobility for graduates thanks to crippling student loan debt, can make this a more difficult sell. A gift like Hicks' may alleviate the burden of student debt for the students who graduate, but the typically low salaries for social workers will likely mean they will not be able to be robust givers to the college in the years and decades to come.