The Cockrell School of Engineering received a $35 million donation from UT alumnus T.W. “Tom” Whaley Jr., the University announced Thursday.
Whaley, who died in 2013, received his doctorate in electrical engineering from the Cockrell School in 1968. According to the school, his donation will provide $1.6 million in annual merit scholarships for high school students in Texas to study engineering at Cockrell.
“It’s phenomenal,” Cockrell school dean Sharon Wood said. “It was a total surprise when we got the gift, and it’s going to have a huge impact on our students.”
As the largest endowed scholarship the University has ever received to date, Wood said the gift is divided into two parts – the Cockrell school received the first $20 million during the spring semester and will receive the remaining $15 million by the end of 2015.
In addition, Whaley also gave the University 700 mineral rights across 10 states, which the school expects will significantly contribute to the University’s annual income. The Cockrell school plans to use some of the additional income to fund more fellowships for both graduate students and undergraduates, Wood said.
“It’s going to allow us to attract the best students from across the state of Texas to come to the Cockrell school, and we’re really excited about that,” Wood said.
For the 2014-15 academic year, the endowment allows 34 incoming freshmen to study engineering across the seven departments of Cockrell. The school also plans to design multi-year scholarships for future freshmen, Wood said.
John Jennings, incoming mechanical engineering freshman, said he is thankful Whaley’s scholarship will help him get through college.
“I’m really happy I don’t have to worry about finances,” Jennings said.
David Anderson, Whaley’s attorney and executor of his estate, could not be reached for comment.