AUSTIN, Texas—John and Jane Barnhill of Brenham, Texas, have given $1 million to help endow future communications between the Texas Exes, the alumni association of The University of Texas at Austin, and its members.
The gift equals the largest non-scholarship donation given to the Texas Exes. Retired businessman and past-president of the Texas Exes Jack Harbin gave $1 million in 1999 for beautification of the Alumni Center’s grounds.
The John and Jane Barnhill Communications Endowment will support communication with Texas Exes in whatever form it takes in the future. For the past 93 years, the primary vehicle of communication has been the association’s bimonthly magazine, The Alcalde.
“Producing a magazine, if you do it right, is expensive,” said Avrel Seale, editor of The Alcalde. “But since 1913, the Texas Exes have viewed the expense as money well spent. Mr. and Mrs. Barnhill’s gift is not only breathtaking but novel and farsighted. They recognize the multiplier effect that good communication with alumni can have on the overall well-being of the university. To have what you do for a living validated in this dramatic way is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
John Barnhill graduated from The University of Texas with a degree in journalism in 1959. He has had a successful 40-year career as an executive at Blue Bell Creameries and has pursued other business interests such as banking. During his tenure at Blue Bell, the company rose from a small country creamery serving a dozen central Texas counties to having the third-best-selling brand of ice cream in the United States. Barnhill has been involved in many civic activities. In 1993-94, Barnhill was president of the Texas Exes. In 2003, he was appointed to the UT System Board of Regents for a six-year term.
Jane (Cook) Barnhill studied education at the university during the late 1950s. In addition to raising three children, all Texas Exes, she has been involved in a number of civic causes, especially historical preservation.
“The question is,” John Barnhill said, “why would we put our gift into a communications endowment instead of endowed scholarships or the building endowment or a chair in a department or the many other worthwhile opportunities for giving at the university? Simply because I think strengthening The Alcalde actually benefits all those areas through its widespread influence in keeping alumni informed and involved.”
The award was announced at the fall meeting of the Texas Exes Council on Nov. 3 and a plaque commemorating the endowment will be displayed in the offices of The Alcalde.
Note to editor: Photos of the presentation are available upon request.