When you give to the University Unions, you can be sure that your gift is having a direct and positive impact on student life on The University of Texas campus. Endowments that have been created through gifts to the University Unions support a number of student awards for citizenship, spirit and leadership. Other donations also assist with funding for lectureships, programming and even art displayed throughout our buildings.

The University Unions manages eight endowments for student support.  Three of these endowments create funds that are awarded to students for their achievements in campus leadership, citizenship and spirit.  Other endowments, such as the student programming endowment, lectureship endowment and art endowment, provide funds for events, leadership and educational opportunities for our students.

Endowments in Campus Leadership, Citizenship and Spirit

William Andrew Smith, Jr. GRASP Award

The University Unions Advisory Council adopted a special project in honor of the 75th Anniversary. The Grants for Active Student Participants (GRASP) endowment was created in 2006 through the generosity of the members and was named in honor of past Unions' Executive Director Andy Smith in 2013. The purpose of William Andrew Smith, Jr. GRASP Award is to encourage and facilitate continued participation, particularly by freshman and sophomore students, in University Unions committees and programs by providing awards to students who have demonstrated leadership qualities, an enthusiasm for campus citizenship and solid academic performance.

Additional gifts from alumni and friends will increase the number of support opportunities currently available through the endowment.

Pal - Make A Difference

The Pal - "Make A Difference" Endowment in The Texas Union, endowed in 2006 by Jaspreet Singh Pal, BBA '95, was created to sponsor the annual Pal - Make A Difference Award. The purpose of the award is to encourage university leadership and public service by recognizing a student whose individual program or initiative, fostered by a campus organization or sponsorship, has made a significant contribution to campus life or the broader community.

Jaspreet Singh Pal is a 1995 UT graduate and a former member of the Texas Union Board of Directors. He currently serves on the University Unions Advisory Council.

Student Award Endowments

In 1995, the Texas Union Advisory Council established an endowment to fund stipends for recipients of the Union's annual Leadership and Spirit Awards. Funds were raised from alumni who had participated in Union committee activities over the years.

In 1996 the Advisory Council voted to name the awards the Shirley Bird Perry Leadership Award and the C. C. "Jitter" Nolen Spirit Award. In 1999 a third award was created: the J. J. "Jake" Pickle Citizenship Award, a campus-wide award, which is also presented annually.

The corpus of the Student Awards Endowment currently stands at $75,000. In order to increase the amount of the award stipends to an appropriate level, the endowment corpus should be doubled.

Current Award Recipients

Leland Murphy, 2023: J. J. "Jake" Pickle Citizenship Award Recipient

Katherine Ospina, 2023: Pal - Make A Difference Award Recipient

Events, Leadership and Educational Opportunities


An endowment to support student programming was established in 2000 on the recommendation of the Texas Union Council and the Texas Union Board of Directors. Programming is a core function of The Texas Union, and this endowment will provide recurring funds to support student events and activities. It will also afford individual and corporate donors the opportunity to contribute to the long-term support of union student programming.

Texas Union Lectureship

In 1983 the newly created Texas Union Advisory Council launched a fund-raising campaign to endow the Texas Union Lectureship. The lectureship was created to expose students to a wide range of philosophies and ideas. Interest income provides funds to bring nationally known speakers to campus.

The inaugural lecturer was Henry Cisneros in 1988. Subsequent lecturers have included John B. Connally, Ernest L. Boyer, Barbara Jordan, James A. Baker, Rev. Peter Gomes and James Earl Jones. In 2005, His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressed a full house of 12,500 in the Frank Erwin Special Events Center.

Lecture fees have escalated since the endowment was created, limiting speaker choices and reducing the frequency of what was intended to be an annual event. Private gifts to the endowment will help to reverse this trend.

Texas Union Permanent Art Collection

In 2003 a generous gift from Pisces Foods, L.P. provided seed funding to establish the Texas Union Permanent Art Collection Endowment. Income from the endowment will support acquisitions of original art by recognized artists.

Works from the Texas Union Permanent Art Collection are displayed in the public areas of The Texas Union. As a continual part of the campus environment, the Permanent Art Collection is a unique enrichment program that invites frequent, leisurely encounters with a wide selection of visual arts by students and patrons.

Additional contributions to the endowment from interested donors enhance the opportunities to augment the Collection, ensuring that the expanding Collection provides rewarding experiences for students, alumni and the university community in perpetuity.

General Endowment

The Texas Union Endowment Fund generates annual support for the Union's operating budget. Increasing the General Endowment's corpus is essential to protect the income stream against inflation. Significantly increasing the size of the corpus will increase the amount of annual support in real dollars and provide more stability for the Union's financial base.

picture of plaque

Texas Union - University Co-operative Society Presidential Medallion

In June 2002 the Union secured funding from the University Co-operative Society for the Presidential Medallion Project. The funding supported the commission of fourteen new commemorative medallions to be on display in time for the 75th Anniversary celebration of The Texas Union in fall 2008. From 1944 to 2003 no portrait medallions of former university presidents have been added to the Union's Presidential Lobby. Sculptor David Deming, former UT Dean of Fine Arts and current president of The Cleveland Institute of Art, created fourteen new medallions to bring the collection up to date.

To preserve this unique tradition, the University Co-operative Society made a generous gift in March 2006 to establish the Texas Union—University Co-operative Society Presidential Medallion Endowment. The endowment income will fund the commission of portrait medallion honoring future university presidents.

The University Co-operative Society—a non-profit organization owned by the students, faculty and staff of the university—has served the UT community continuously since its founding in 1896. It is the largest seller of used textbooks in the country and the most profitable independent college bookstore in the United States. After-rebate profit is used to support university-related projects and activities.

A slate plaque displayed in the Union's Presidential Lobby recognizes the Co-op's generosity.


The Student Endowed Centennial Lectureship

The Student Endowed Centennial Lectureship was established in 1983 as a gift from students in commemoration of the one-hundredth anniversary of The University of Texas at Austin. SECL hosts visits by distinguished scholars and public figures, and the lectureship is designed to expose students to a wide range of philosophies, perspectives and issues through access to and close contact with persons who have attained distinction in their chosen field. These lecturers, called Centennial Fellows, spend significant time interacting with students while on campus.

Recommendations for lecturers are submitted by a council comprised of sponsoring student leadership organizations: The Friar Society, Orange Jackets, Texas Spirits, Silver Spurs, Texas Cowboys, Texas Blazers, Senate of College Councils, Student Government, UT Leadership and Ethics Institute, College Republicans, Queer Student Alliance, University Panhellenic Council, University Residence Hall Association, Campus Events + Entertainment, University Democrats, Absolute Texxas, Tejas and Alpha Epsilon Delta.