The School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, one of the top-rated institutions of its kind, was strengthened further in 2014 by a gift from an alum who parlayed a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the school into a quirky career. T. W. Whaley donated $35 million plus 700 claims to mineral rights. This will allow, in the first year alone, 34 promising students to learn engineering on scholarship.
Whaley had grown up as an orphan, been adopted, served in the Army, then gone to college. After completing graduate school he worked on production of the F-111 fighter, then was recruited by the CIA as an expert on antenna technology. He made his money by managing the family farm, which was not only a large agricultural operation but a beneficiary of oil and gas below the surface.
Oil and gas philanthropy was also important in building up the UT Austin engineering school in the first place. It was named the Cockrell School in 2007 in recognition of many years of gifts—totaling the equivalent of $220 million—from the petroleum earnings of the Cockrell family of Houston.
- University of Texas news, engr.utexas.edu/features/whaley-scholarship