The Jackson School of Geosciences received $10.5 million last week from The Munib and Angela Masri Foundation to create an endowment that will support graduate studies at the school.
The organization was founded by a UT alumnus in 1970 as a humanitarian assistance organization for Palestinians. Now the foundation is expanding its outreach to UT. The donation will establish Masri fellowships for Jackson students with undergraduate degrees from Palestinian, Jordanian and Lebanese universities to support their education and research, according to a UT press release. The school also named its courtyard on the East Mall after the Masri Foundation to honor the endowment, according to the press release.
UT alumnus Munib Masri said he owes his success in business and philanthropy to the University.
“(I created the endowment) to support education and research on water, land use, energy, climate and environmental resilience,” Masri said. “(Therefore) the effects of human activities on habitat, water and energy resources and climate can be accurately predicted and the management of natural resources can be optimized.”
Former geosciences dean Sharon Mosher said the fellowship process will be similar to the admissions process for other graduate students. Mosher said graduate students will apply for the fellowships, indicating what they are interested in doing and who they may want to work for.
“Starting next fall, there will be enough funding for one (student), but over a period of years there will be funding for even more to come,” Mosher said. “It is a fairly prestigious fellowship, so there will be competition for that.”
Masri said the fellowships complement the school’s 10-year strategic plan to help the success of the school’s enterprises. The plan includes research initiatives such as Planet Texas 2050, which finds solutions to aid Texas’ gradual process of population growth, according to its website.
“The most important thing is to bring the world together, and I believe the Jackson School of Geosciences has a lot to offer to the (Middle East),” Masri said.
Mosher said the University and the Masri Foundation will also advertise this program to universities in the Middle East.
“One of the things that we are hoping for is that this will build stronger collaborations between UT and those other universities,” Mosher said.
Geological sciences graduate student Omar Alamoudi said this endowment may encourage students with diverse backgrounds to apply and be a part of Jackson.
“(The endowment) provides opportunities for people from these particular regions that may not necessarily be a part of this (program),” Alamoudi said. “It (also) helps the diversity that the Jackson school has been trying to promote for quite some time.”
Masri said his experiences at UT contributed to his success in Palestine. Now, he said, he wants students from the Middle East to experience the same benefits UT has to offer.
“Our planet is small and affected by the environment, and we have to understand each other and work together in partnership to solve issues in the world’s interest,” Masri said. “It is very important to human beings to respect peace and dignity to face the social and economic challenges in which we live.”