AUSTIN, Texas—Carmax founder Austin Ligon and his wife, Samornmitr "Pan" Lamsam, have donated $1 million to the Plan II Honors Program at The University of Texas at Austin.
The donation, one of the largest single gifts to the nationally recognized program, will support students studying abroad.
The $1 million gift will substantially increase support for international travel awards. Last year, Plan II awarded about $33,000 in U.S. and foreign travel grants to 27 students. Through the Ligon-Lamsam fund, Plan II will award about $250,000 annually during the next five years.
"In a world growing smaller everyday, studying abroad is an important and necessary experience," Michael Stoff, interim director of Plan II, said. "This extraordinary gift will help to transform the lives of our students by allowing more of them to study abroad and immerse themselves in foreign cultures they will come to know up close."
Ligon is the founder and first president and CEO of CarMax, a Fortune 500 company and the nation’s largest retailer of used cars. Ligon retired from CarMax last summer. Lamsam is a former merchant banker and independent financial consultant.
Ligon earned his bachelor’s degree from the Plan II Honors Program in 1973 and his master’s degree in economics from the university in 1978. The Phi Beta Kappa and Tejas Club member spent his senior year studying in Peru, an experience he credits with transforming his perspective—and life.
"It opened my eyes to the fact that my perspective on the world was just one tiny little portion of the ways in which the world could be viewed," Ligon said. "I was just a kid from West Texas, but the experience in Peru gave me a chance to work for a worldwide company."
After leaving the university, Ligon attended the Yale University School of Management and worked for Boston Consulting Group in London. He also was an independent financial consultant in Bangkok. In addition to his work at CarMax, Ligon has served as vice president of Circuit City and Marriott.
For more information about the Ligon-Lamsam International Study Fund, contact the Plan II Honors Program at 512-471-1442.
For more information contact: Michael Stoff, interim director, Plan II Honors Program, 512-471-1442; Michael McFarlin, development specialist, Plan II Honors Program, 512-471-1442; Christian Clarke Casarez, director of public affairs, College of Liberal Arts, 512-471-4945.