Former Texas Lieutenant Governor Ben Barnes has made a $1 million gift in support of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin, the Lyndon B. Johnson Foundation has announced. The gift will be used primarily for student fellowships.
"Except for President Johnson himself, nobody has been more important to the LBJ School of Public Affairs than Ben Barnes," said LBJ Foundation President Larry Temple. "He was instrumental in the school's creation and initial funding and Ben has been a key adviser and supporter of the LBJ School over the past 40 years. This generous gift is the latest manifestation of Ben's abiding support for the school. It will assure that the LBJ School can continue to recruit and educate the best and brightest students available."
Barnes serves on the Lyndon B. Johnson Foundation board of directors and the LBJ School's advisory committee, and his volunteer efforts on behalf of the school span more than 30 years.
"Governor Barnes' extraordinary personal commitment to the LBJ School has played a crucial role in building and sustaining the program since its inception," said James Steinberg, dean of the LBJ School who was recently nominated by President-elect Barack Obama to serve as deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of State. "In particular, his generous support for student fellowships has made it possible for the LBJ School to bring to UT the finest young men and women and help them pursue vitally needed careers in public service."
Barnes was honored at The University of Texas at Austin in 2000 when friends and admirers, in appreciation for his long-standing interest in higher education, created a $1.5 million endowment, The Ben Barnes Fellowships in Public Leadership, at the LBJ School. The endowment is used to recruit and support top students with an interest in public leadership.
"Graduate education and research will be our avenues to continued and increased prosperity," Barnes said. "That means we must make major, sustained commitments to recruit and educate world-class students."
Barnes was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1962 at the age of 22, and was elected speaker of the House of Representatives in 1965, becoming the youngest speaker in state history. Three years later, at 31, Barnes became the state's youngest lieutenant governor, capturing the most votes ever for a statewide office. Barnes retired from public office in 1973 to pursue interests in private business. In 1995, he was named a "Distinguished Alumnus" of The University of Texas at Austin.
Barnes is the founding principal of the Ben Barnes Group, a business consulting and lobbying firm with offices in Austin and Washington, D.C.