A $1 million gift from Dr. Steven Ungerleider, a renowned sports psychologist in Oregon, has established the William C. Powers Graduate Fellowship to support excellence in graduate education across the university, the Graduate School at The University of Texas at Austin has announced.
Ungerleider, who received his bachelor's degree in psychology in 1970 from the university while competing as a gymnast, is creating the fellowship to help attract top graduate students from around the world. The first cohort of Powers Graduate Fellows will enter the university in fall 2009.
"We have an absolute gem here with the university," said Ungerleider, "and we have a visionary sitting in the president's office. I wanted to honor both."
The gift has been facilitated by Ungerleider through the Foundation for Global Sports Development, an outreach and mentorship educational fund, where Ungerleider is a trustee.
"We are indebted to Dr. Ungerleider for this generous gift," said William Powers Jr., president of the university. "He clearly understands the importance of graduate students to the success of our university. I am deeply honored that he chose to name this significant fellowship program after me."
Despite receiving his master's and doctor's degrees from another institution, Ungerleider chose The University of Texas at Austin for his gift to support the president's goal of becoming the top public research institution in the country.
"When I asked the president what I could do to help him reach his goal, he talked about the importance of supporting graduate students at the university," said Ungerleider. "He shared that while many top students want to attend UT Austin and work with our renowned faculty, we lose some of the best because they are offered better financial packages at other institutions."
To learn more about graduate education at the university, Ungerleider examined the university's most prestigious graduate fellowship program, the Donald D. Harrington Graduate Fellowship, and met with several Harrington graduate fellows. He was impressed with the model of supporting the very best students with a multi-year package and providing a community of mentors and peers to enhance the graduate experience.
Ungerleider said he wants to create another fellowship program to honor the academic excellence of the next generation and continue the practice of graduate students developing their own expertise under the mentorship of seasoned faculty.
"In 2010, the Graduate School will celebrate its 100-year anniversary and will look toward the future of graduate education at the university," said Victoria Rodríguez, vice provost and dean of graduate studies. "This inspiring gift is vital to fulfilling our vision of attracting the highest quality students to the Graduate School."
Author of six books, Ungerleider holds master's and doctor's degrees from the University of Oregon. He is a licensed psychologist at Integrated Research Services, Incorporated, in Eugene, Ore. Since 1984 Ungerleider has served on the United States Olympic Committee Sport Psychology Registry and has consulted with a number of international sport federations.