UT alumna awarded National Humanities Medal at White House

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of UT Austin

Teresa Lozano Long, a UT alumna and longtime donor to the school, received the National Humanities Medal in a ceremony at the White House on Thursday.

The medal honors those who help deepen the public’s understanding of the humanities. President Donald Trump honored Long alongside best-selling author James Patterson, renowned chef Patrick J. O’Connell and The Claremont Institute, a conservative think tank.

“Teresa Lozano Long is an extraordinary philanthropist and supporter of education and the arts,” Trump said during the ceremony. “With her husband Joe, she has given over $130 million dollars to universities and cultural organizations in Texas.”

Long was the first Hispanic woman to earn a doctorate in health and physical education from UT. The Institute for Latin American Studies was named after her in 2000.

“Because of their major contributions over these last years ... we’ve created this incredible institute in our own backyard,” said Myra Leo, chair of the advisory council at the institute and a friend of Long. “We’re second to the Library of Congress in terms of collections.”

Although Long began her professional life as a physical education teacher in the small South Texas town of Alice, she has a passion for art. Long previously served on the National Council on the Arts, which reviews federal grants for projects that promote public engagement with art throughout the nation, among other things, according to its website. 

Despite her history in supporting the arts and the philanthropic efforts of her and her husband, Long did not expect to receive the National Humanities Medal.

“I was shocked,” Long said. “I don’t even know how they got my name.”

In 1999, Long and her husband established the Long Foundation, an Austin-based nonprofit organization that collects art and educates the public, according to the organization’s website.

“They do a lot in the local Austin community,” Leo said. “They’re just so passionate and compassionate about everything that they do.”

Long and her husband donate their money strategically, Leo said. They make sure the community has a vested interest in the causes the foundation funds, and the Longs want to see the outcomes of their donations.  

“It’s not about the names on the buildings,” Leo said. “It is about what’s happening to these individuals and helping them dream their dreams and reaching their dreams.”