The School of Arts, Humanities and Technology at the University of Texas at Dallas will now be called the Harry W. Bass Jr. School of Arts, Humanities and Technology following a $40 million gift to the university from the Harry W. Bass Jr. Foundation.
“The impact of this gift cannot be overstated,” Dr. Nils Roemer, dean of the Bass School and president of the University of Arts, Humanities and Technology, said in a statement. “It will strengthen the foundation of our scholarship, research and programming and change the trajectory of our school. It multiplies opportunities for students, faculty and communities to engage in essential experiences of the arts, humanities and emerging technologies.
The university said the renaming will honor one of Dallas’ leading business and philanthropic families and build on the school’s dynamic foundation to create new and expanded opportunities for students, faculty and the broader community.
“Harry Bass Jr. was a multi-tasker of the first order – running an oil company, investing in a ski resort and fostering an interest in computer science, all the while committing to amassing an unparalleled collection of early American gold coins,” Doris Bass, President and Trustee the foundation said in a statement. “He believed that to whom much is given, much is required. That mentality, coupled with his forward-looking outlook, prompted Harry to raise resources that the foundation is now using to honor his legacy in significant ways.”
UT Dallas said the gift will fuel Bass School priorities and generate new avenues of engagement and research.
It says students will benefit from additional scholarships and bursaries, as well as enhanced learning experiences for both undergraduate and graduate students. The increased faculty support will help attract and retain innovative faculty focused on advancing interdisciplinary work in the university’s centers, labs and studios, according to the university.
The gift will allow leadership to implement critical initiatives more comprehensively throughout the school and ensure that the big ideas already in motion become sustainable efforts embedded across the curriculum, Roemer said.
Innovation at the intersection of arts, humanities and technology
Roemer sees the investment as a catalyst for things to come.
“Bass School will be a place where students will continue to come in even greater numbers,” he said. “Faculty will want to teach here, and the community will want to be a part of this thriving new culture we’re creating here at UT Dallas.”
UT Dallas announced the creation of AHT in 2022 to enhance the arts on campus and establish a strong, unified academic presence for the arts.
It said the merger brings together the School of Arts and Humanities, one of the university’s oldest schools, established in 1975, and the School of Arts, Technology and Emerging Communications, home of the first arts and technology degree in Texas .
“The convergence of the arts, humanities and technology is one of the qualities that makes our institution unique to UTD,” UT Dallas President Richard S. Benson, the Eugene McDermott University Leadership Chair, said in a statement. “The extraordinary generosity of Harry W. Bass Jr. The Foundation accelerates our efforts to cultivate the interdisciplinary approach that allows us to be innovators at the forefront of this intersection.”
UT Dallas said a portion of the gift provides critical funding to accelerate Phase II of the Edith and Peter O’Donnell Jr. Athenaeum, a new cultural district located on approximately 12 acres at the southeast end of campus.
Under construction, its first phase includes a two-story space that will house a second location of the Crow Asian Art Museum. The second phase includes a two-story, 53,000-square-foot performance hall with a 600-seat concert hall, choir and orchestra rehearsal rooms, classrooms and office space. UT Dallas said it will become home to the Bass School’s art students and music faculty.
Emphasis on education
The Harry Bass Foundation was established by oil entrepreneur Harry W. Bass Sr. in 1945 to support charitable and faith-based organizations in Dallas, UT Dallas said.
After his father’s death, Harry Bass Jr. took over the operation of the family foundation.
He founded the Harry W. Bass Jr. Foundation in 1991 as an extension of his passion for numismatics, studying and collecting coins, UT Dallas said. In 2002, the two organizations were merged to operate under the Harry W. Bass Jr. name. Foundation.
“Harry really believed in keeping an educated mind,” Doris Bass said of her late husband. “What he lacked in just two years of formal education, Harry made up for with a sharp, inquisitive mind, an uncanny ability to concentrate on any task, and a dogged determination to educate himself on matters of interest.”
UT Dallas said the foundation is still aligned with Bass’ original mission, funding local education, arts, science, civic and human service initiatives. In recent years, he has supported other areas at UT Dallas, including the Edith O’Donnell Institute for the History of Art.
“One of the most monumental philanthropic contributions to the University to date, this gift from Harry W. Bass Jr. Foundation demonstrates the community’s continued investment in the evolution of UT Dallas into a premier comprehensive public university,” Kyle Edgington, vice president of development and alumni relations at UTD, said in a statement. “The impact of this generosity will resonate beyond campus for generations to come.”
According to UT Dallas, the gift also supports the ongoing New Dimensions: The Campaign for UT Dallas, which seeks to raise $750 million for transformative opportunities for students, research and the arts on campus.
The university has planned a campus celebration for the school’s new name in the fall.
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