AUSTIN, Texas—Carolyn Bacon, the executive director of the O’Donnell Foundation in Dallas, will be the keynote speaker at The University of Texas at Austin Women Changing Policy through Philanthropy Lecture on Thursday (Feb. 24). Her talk, titled “Private Foundations Influencing Policy,” will begin at 4 p.m. in the Welch Hall Convocation Center (2.122), followed by a reception. The event is part of a year long series of events on Women, Leadership and Policy sponsored by the UT Center for Women’s Studies.
The O’Donnell Foundation has taken the lead in promoting the development of graduate research in applied computational engineering and science at the University by building a five-story, 180,000-square-foot building on Speedway. Nearly 400 faculty members and graduate students from TICAM, Computer Sciences and Electrical and Computer Engineering will occupy the building later this year. Additionally, the foundation has worked for the past 10 years to increase the number of students earning math and science degrees.
The foundation also funds teacher training and programs starting at the middle school level to prepare students to pass Advanced Placement (AP) exams in math, English and science. The program results are dramatic, especially for women and minority students, populations traditionally underrepresented in postsecondary education. In only one year of operation in nine Dallas public schools, the number of Hispanic and African American students taking AP exams rose from 64 to 400. Similar results have been achieved in the O’Donnell Foundation’s incentive program for AP arts courses.
Bacon will discuss the new trends emerging in philanthropy in the 21st century, drawing on her professional experiences in government, her current position with an independent Dallas-based foundation that works to strengthen engineering and science education in Texas, and her volunteer work on policy-setting boards. Major changes in philanthropy mean that organizations like the O’Donnell Foundation are in a key position to influence public policy over the next 20 years.
The lecture and reception are free and open to the public. For more information, please contact the Center for Women’s Studies at 471-5765 or via email at