AUSTIN, Texas — A $20 million gift from Fort Worth oil and gas investor Bobby Patton Jr. and his wife, Sherri, will support faculty and graduate student endowments in the College of Liberal Arts at The University of Texas at Austin.
The gift will also support experiential learning opportunities for undergraduates as well as excellence funds to support priority programs in the college.
Bobby Patton, a Plan II student in the early 1980s, said the liberal arts have always been a passion for him, and his experiences in Plan II inspired him to make the gift. Plan II is a four-year interdisciplinary arts and science honors major in the College of Liberal Arts.
“I like to call this an investment rather than a gift,” Patton said. “After I left UT I realized just how important liberal arts were to my life. They taught me how to learn and how to keep on learning.”
A member of the UT College of Liberal Arts Advisory Council, Patton principally operates oil and gas properties in Texas and Kansas and has additional investments in many other sectors, including ranching and insurance. A partner of Guggenheim Baseball Management, he became part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012.
“I deeply appreciate Bobby and Sherri Patton’s incredible investment in the liberal arts,” said President Gregory L. Fenves. “Their generosity will help UT educate leaders who can face society’s greatest challenges, and for whom a liberal arts education is essential.”
Randy Diehl, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said the gift would significantly boost efforts to build excellence throughout the college, which offers more than 50 majors in 22 academic departments and in more than 30 centers, institutes and programs.
“The recruitment of top faculty and top graduate students go hand in hand, ultimately benefitting every student who enrolls in liberal arts courses.” Diehl said. “Bolstering experiential learning will also greatly enhance undergraduate opportunities in areas such as study abroad, internships, leadership and research. We are grateful to the Pattons for this truly transformative gift.”
Born and raised in Fort Worth, Patton received a B.B.A. from The University of Texas as well as a J.D. from St. Mary’s University and LL.M. from Southern Methodist University. He serves on the board of Security Benefit Corporation and also serves as the tournament chairman of the Crowne Plaza Invitational PGA Tour event at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth. Sherri Lynn Patton also earned a law degree from SMU and later served as an assistant district attorney in Dallas.