University of Texas at Austin alumnus and El Paso native Woody L. Hunt has pledged $1 million in a challenge grant to the Business Honors Program (BHP) at the McCombs School of Business that will help the program attract more top students from his home region.
Hunt earned his BBA in the honors program in 1966. The gift will be officially announced at a University of Texas recruiting event Tuesday, Sept. 18, in El Paso.
The gift is set up as a challenge grant that, once funded, will support the new Woody L. Hunt Endowed Excellence Fund for the expansion of BHP student programs, as well as a presidential scholarship aimed at recruiting top students from the El Paso/Las Cruces/Juarez area. The challenge: In order to receive the gift, the McCombs School of Business must raise an additional $2 million over five years.
"We are so grateful for the generosity of Mr. Hunt and the Hunt Family Foundation," said Robert Prentice, faculty director of the Business Honors Program. "These funds and those that we will be raising from alumni and friends of the program will be crucial to the long-term growth and success of the program."
Hunt said that he would like his gift to fund scholarships to students from the Paso del Norte area which encompasses El Paso, southern New Mexico and northern Mexico because the area is "not as competitive as it should be" despite its strengths. "My hope here is to try to improve the competitiveness of our region. The expectations would be that some of those students will come back and contribute to the community."
The Business Honors Program, started in 1960, is both a program and a major at McCombs. The curriculum is modeled after the MBA curriculum, giving its 500 students access to smaller classes taught using the case-based model of instruction. The program graduates about 120 students each year.
"I was one of the early participants in BHP and have always connected my success going forward with that educational experience," said Hunt, who is chairman and CEO of Hunt Companies Inc. Founded in 1947, the company is involved in investment, real estate development and construction.