UT regent, telecom pioneer gifts $25 million to School of Social Work

Steve Hicks announces $25 million gift to the UT School of Social Work, with President Gregory Fenves, at right. (KXAN Photo/Frank Martinez)
Steve Hicks announces $25 million gift to the UT School of Social Work, with President Gregory Fenves, at right. (KXAN Photo/Frank Martinez)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — One of the largest ever gifts to a public university’s school of social work was bestowed on the University of Texas at Austin on Wednesday.

R. Steven “Steve” Hicks, vice chairman of the UT System Board of Regents and a telecommunications pioneer, gifted $10 million to create a permanent endowment for student scholarships, $5 million in matching funds to encourage support of social worker education and $10 million to enhance social work education in the fields of addiction, fundraising and philanthropy, the university said.

UT anticipates the massive donation will cement the school’s standing as one of the top 10 graduate programs of social work in the country. The school is being named the Steve Hicks School of Social Work in recognition of the gift.

“By investing in our social work students, Steve Hicks is investing in a fabric that binds communities together,” said Gregory Fenves, president of The University of Texas at Austin. “Social work students commit to dedicate their lives to service and enriching the lives of others. In return, UT commits to support them thanks to Steve Hicks’ generous philanthropy.”

Hicks said he has historically given to organizations that help other people, which carry out “the true essence of social work.” He continued, “I am not a social worker, but I understand the need to reduce student debt burden so that social work graduates can stay in their careers doing what they love and positively affecting the lives of thousands of people.”

The school’s dean, Luis H. Zayas, called the gift “transformative,” enabling students regardless of socioeconomic background to respond to their social work calling with less concern about student debt.

Hicks owns and is the executive chairman of Capstar Partners, a private investment firm based in Austin. According to a university biography, he served as CEO of Capstar Broadcasting Corporation, which by 1998 was the nation’s largest radio station holding company, with 350 radio stations.

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