AUSTIN, Texas — The Munib and Angela Masri Foundation has pledged $10.5 million to create an endowment for graduate education at The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences.
The gift will establish prestigious Masri graduate fellowships at the Jackson School for students from Palestinian, Jordanian and Lebanese universities to support education and research in water, land use, energy, climate and environmental resilience. In honor of the gift, the Jackson School is naming its courtyard on the East Mall “The Munib and Angela Masri Family Courtyard.”
“It is my hope that my commitment will make it possible for scholars to identify solutions to some of our most difficult challenges, which will have worldwide impact,” said Munib Masri, who earned his bachelor’s degree from UT in 1955.
After graduating from UT, Masri had a distinguished career in business, and more dear to his heart, philanthropy. He began his career working in the oil and gas industry with Phillips Petroleum Company in 1956. Afterwards, he spent decades in the energy and water sectors including founding Edgo, a leading oil and gas services company that operates throughout the Middle East. He also co-founded and served for 20 years as chairman of the board of PADICO, a Palestinian development and investment company that established numerous subsidiaries focused on developing the infrastructure of the region, including telecommunications, a stock exchange, industrial parks, tourism and hospitality, real estate development and other ventures employing thousands of people. Masri and his wife formalized their philanthropic efforts in 1970 by launching the Munib and Angela Masri Foundation, which focuses on education, higher education, health, scientific research, culture and charitable initiatives.
Masri has dedicated much of the past four decades to working toward a peaceful two-state solution between Palestinians and Israelis, as well as his extensive work with foundations and organizations that promote the development and well-being of people in the wider Middle East.
Jackson School Dean Sharon Mosher said that the new fellowships emphasize the Jackson School’s focus on conducting research and educating scientists to help tackle big issues that matter to society, such as sustainable water and energy supplies, the impact of changing climate and land use, and geohazards such as earthquakes and tsunamis. The fellowships complement the school’s Earth in 2100: Water, Energy, Land Use and Climate research initiative and the UT-wide Planet Texas 2050 initiative, which focuses on making Texas communities more resilient in the wake of a changing climate and booming population.
“The issues we have here in Texas are the same as they are facing in the Middle East,” Mosher said. “This is really Planet Texas 2050 on the global level. The foresight of Munib and Angela Masri to invest in this kind of education is exactly what we need to tackle the challenges facing the planet over the next century.”
The agreement was officially signed in the Palestinian city of Nablus earlier this month in a ceremony attended by Mosher, the Masri family and the presidents of many Palestinian universities. One of the goals of the new fellowships is to continue to foster research collaborations between the Jackson School and the universities whose students are eligible for the fellowships.
“I cherish my time at The University of Texas,” Masri said. “It is because of my education there that I was able to accomplish much of what I have during my life. I hope by creating these fellowships that I can help others accomplish their goals and help solve the difficult challenges the world is facing today and will face over the next 100 years, starting in 2020, the year of the golden jubilee anniversary of the Munib and Angela Masri Foundation.”