Texas Connect


How staff and faculty members can help support campus causes

illustration of a longhorn shaped piggy bank with two characters putting a coin in it.

Longhorns do it all. They build batteries, study ancient languages and seek cures for cancer. They generate power and patrol the grounds. Each university unit contributes to the mission of The University of Texas at Austin, and all of them require funding.

Donor support affects all aspects of the university, helping fund diverse initiatives from sustaining student scholarships to building research facilities. UT Development works to showcase that breadth to potential donors. Giving.utexas.edu allows visitors to scroll through programs and departments and give to the university endeavors they care most about.

Staff and faculty members can also get involved in helping broadcast specific development efforts. The annual 40 Hours for the Forty Acres, a development program that occurs every April, relies on UT supporters signing up as ambassadors to help amplify the message across social media.

Katy Buchanan, an administrative manager in the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies, volunteered in 2019.

“I was hoping that by becoming an ambassador I could help shine a light on Latino Studies,” Buchanan says.

She was tasked with sharing messaging on social media, and 40 for Forty administrators helped her with scheduling and content ideas.

“I was really surprised by all the resources we were given,” Buchanan says. “It was surprisingly easy.”

Sharon Justice, a former associate vice president and dean of students, has been volunteering as an ambassador in her retirement. She believes staff and faculty involvement can influence UT culture.

“It makes a difference,” Justice says. “It models the behavior we would like our students to have.”

HornRaiser, UT’s crowdfunding platform, offers a more hands-on way staff and faculty members can stay involved. Longhorns can propose projects and present them to the UT community, and contribute to initiatives they care about. HornRaiser has funded a wide variety of projects, including a Fine Arts recording studio, boats for Texas Crew, and the DDCE First Generation Initiative.

Some staff and faculty members aid development by donating themselves. In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, more than 4,000 employees decided to support UT with their own donations.

Andrew Hunt, a catering program coordinator with University Housing and Dining, says he was first inspired to give by a doubling offer. He chose to support McDonald Observatory, a place that’s meant much to him.

“When I was a little kid, my aunt and uncle lived out there in Fort Davis, and I remember going to star parties at the observatory,” Hunt says.

Sabra Booth, a cashier with Parking and Transportation Services, didn’t hesitate to donate to Student Veteran Services.

“It was a no-brainer for me,” says Booth, who has veteran family members. “We can never do enough for our military members, active or not. Keeping the money in Texas makes it easier to manage.”

Staff and faculty members can become advocates for their own work and can champion causes across campus as well. These funds help augment other allocations and allow staff and faculty to adapt to new needs or ideas.

“It’s really important to get development dollars because it allows you to be innovative,” Buchanan says.