UT alumnus Bernard Rapoport leaves behind legacy after passing away

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UT alumnus and lifelong philanthropist Bernard Rapoport passed away Thursday after decades of service to the University.

Rapoport graduated from the University with a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1939. He founded the American Income Life Insurance Company in 1951 and served as chairman of the UT Board of Regents from 1993 to 1997. The Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice in the School of Law, the Endowment for International and Multidisciplinary Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and the Rapoport Service Scholars program are among his many contributions to the University, said Richard Flores, associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Liberal Arts.

“Mr. Rapoport was very influential in a number of ways,” Flores said. “His passion for liberal arts and for students is what led him to contribute in so many ways on campus.”

Flores said Rapoport’s interests outside of the University and his investment in community service made him an especially distinguished figure in the community.

“He was broadly interested in issues on human rights and social justice,” Flores said. “Someone with that kind of passion will be sorely missed.”

The Rapoport Service Scholars program is a $30,000 scholarship that requires its students to complete summer community service projects and take specific courses dealing with social justice issues. Plan II senior and current Rapoport Service Scholar Alyssa Davis said the scholarship has changed the course of her education.

“I’ve never had the privilege of meeting [Rapoport], but he’s changed my life in so many different ways,” Davis said. “He made it possible for me to continue at UT, and the classes I took because of the scholarship, particularly ones dealing with social justice, literally changed the direction of my life.”

Davis said she hopes to live up to the standards Rapoport set for his students when he created the scholarship program.

“I wish there was some way I could have told him thank you in person, but I’d like to think that my life path will be a thank you of some sort,” David said. “He was an incredible man who did so much for his community.”

Rapoport demonstrated the true spirit of what it means to be a Texas alumnus, said Leslie Cedar, CEO and executive director of Texas Exes.

“Mr. Rapoport gave endless amounts of time and dedication to this great University,” Cedar said. “He embodied the best of the Texas Exes as a selfless servant, loyal friend and a fierce University advocate to the very end.”

Printed on Tuesday, April 10, 2012 as: Rapoport's UT legacy lives beyond his death