One couple’s commitment to education has changed countless lives
*This story has been updated to reflect the current value of the Longs’ contributions to UT Health San Antonio, now totaling more than $61 million. See full story here.
One by one, the students line up to write notes of gratitude to a couple who many haven’t met but who has made a profound impact on their lives. Many say that “words can’t describe” their feelings, but they try. They pen their notes, adding personal stories and details sprinkled with expressions such as “amazing,” “inspiring,” “generous.”
They are messages for Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long, and the occasion is the annual lunch for the Austin philanthropists who have changed the lives of countless Health Science Center students and, by extension, the thousands who have benefitted from the health care provided by those who have received and will receive scholarships from the Longs.
The Longs have supported Health Science Center students through scholarships since 1999. In 2008, the couple made a gift of $25 million to establish the Joe R. and Teresa Long Scholarship Research and Teaching Fund endowment, which resides in the Office of the President. As of August 2015, the market value of the Long fund exceeded $28 million. *In February 2017, the couple contributed an additional $25 million, bringing the total value of their giving to more than $61 million.*
Earnings from the fund were awarded in scholarships to 50 students in 2015-16, including medical, nursing, physician assistant and graduate students. In addition to scholarships, the Long fund also supports the creation of new chair endowments for faculty. So far, the fund has established the Long Distinguished Chair in Metabolic Biology, held by Yuguang (Roger) Shi, Ph.D. It also is building a new Long Distinguished Chair in Diabetes. It will create a new chair every few years, in perpetuity. The fund also supports investments in research.
The Longs routinely receive countless thanks from their scholars, but the couple has a message for them too: “Being a health care provider is a rewarding profession,” Mr. Long said. “You’ve got your whole life ahead of you and when you finish, you’ll be glad you did it.”
Travis Hayden, a first-year medical student and Long Scholar, remembers “being in a state of disbelief for almost a whole month after hearing the news” that he had been selected for a scholarship. He said the Longs have left a legacy that will live on for generations.
“I hope the Longs are assured that their investment in our education has impacted students in a special way,” he added, “inspiring us to carry on the hard-working, selfless and empathetic values that embody their legacy.”
Jill Heisler, a Long Scholar, is a student in the joint M.D./Ph.D. program. She finished the graduate studies portion of the program in 2014 with a Ph.D. in pharmacology/neuroscience and received her medical degree in May.
“Thanks to various funding sources such as the Long scholarship fund, I am able to get through my eight years of medical and graduate training without an insurmountable amount of debt—without any debt, in fact,” Heisler said. “That is an incredible gift that I am truly grateful for.”
The couple has a passion for education and the arts. He was a highly successful lawyer, having attended UT Austin School of Law, and was a banker; she was the first in her family to attend college and went on to earn her doctorate in education from UT Austin. Both come from working-class backgrounds, and both are proponents of sacrifice and hard work.
Health Science Center President William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP, addressed the couple at the April 15 appreciation lunch: “When the next chapters are written and the history of our UT Health Science Center San Antonio is chronicled, one chapter will certainly be devoted to you, Joe and Terry, for all that you have done to transform and enrich our university and the education of students in San Antonio and South Texas.”