Alumnus Howard Terry, whose foundation has donated millions of dollars worth of University scholarships, died Friday. A group of scholarship recipients gathered at the stadium Sunday to pay tribute to his legacy.
Many of those attending told their stories about how the scholarship made it possible for them to attend college and how the Terry Foundation fosters a support system for the scholarship recipients. The foundation asks students to give back to the foundation and their community in a way that reflects the approach Terry took in helping students succeed.
Terry graduated from the University in 1938 with a Bachelor’s in business administration after he captained the football team, according to the Terry Foundation website.
The Terry Foundation works with eight state universities, including UT Austin and the University of Texas at San Antonio, according to the foundation website. Student Financial Services director Tom Melecki said since Terry established the foundation in 1986, it has provided about 1,100 University students with about $46 million in private scholarship funds.
“Even after all this, Mr. Terry was always looking for more ways to help young Texans,” Melecki said.
Melecki said Terry and his wife Nancy personally contributed $230,000 in scholarships to 50 students who transferred into the University from 2011 to 2012.
“Howard Terry represented the best of the American dream — a self-made man who amassed a fortune with skill and hard work, but who understood that a cadre of bright, hard-working, well-educated individuals are the most enduring legacy any citizen can leave to his community, his state and his nation,” Melecki said. “UT Austin and its students have lost a dear friend, and the state of Texas has lost a giant.”
Alumna Honey Habingreither graduated in 2000 with a finance degree and told the other students and alumni that the scholarship allowed her to pursue her desires instead of being restricted by debt.
“It’s hard to listen to these stories because it’s all of our stories,” Habingreither said. “The Terry Foundation believed in all of us.”
Undeclared freshman Madison Russ said the scholarship makes all the difference because she comes from a single-parent household. She said she could never understand why other people didn’t worry about getting things done, but said with the scholarship she feels less concerned about paying for college.
“It’s weird because this person who you never met is gone, but they did so much for you,” Russ said. “I want to thank Mr. Terry for investing his time and money with me when most other people wouldn’t.”