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New Garey Endowment Announced at Southwestern University

Jack Garey Southwestern University Georgetown Texas

Jack Garey holding a rendering of the new School of Natural Sciences building.

Southwestern University President Edward Burger recently announced that Jack Garey has donated $15 million to Southwestern University, located in Georgetown, Texas. It is the largest, single private gift the university has received in its 178-year-long history. As a local resident with deep family roots in the community, I’m very happy to see a former real estate developer like Mr. Garey investing in the preservation and expansion of our university.

The generous endowment will  create the Jack and Camille Garey School of Natural Sciences – greatly expanding the university’s existing natural sciences program. It will be the third named school at the private university along with the Brown College of Arts and Sciences and the Fayez Sarofim School of Fine Arts.

Alice Pieper Raetzsch

Alice Pieper Raetzsch

The fund will also support need-based financial aid; five endowed chairs in natural sciences; eight annual sabbatical semesters for tenured faculty members; and underwriting for educational experiences for 32 “Garey Scholars” in their sophomore and junior years of study at the university.

My grandmother, Alice Pieper, and her cousin Leonie Oelkers – a painter who was well-known for her landscapes with Texas wildflowers – attended Southwestern University. I served as a volunteer docent with Preservation Georgetown. I gave historical tours of Southwestern University. Southwestern welcomed female students at a time when higher education was considered a male pursuit. One interesting architectural feature from the 19th century is a separate case of shorter stairs built for women in the university’s Cullen Building. The fourteen shorter steps on the women’s side equaled thirteen for the equivalent staircase on the men’s side.

Leonie Oelkers in 1910

Leonie Oelkers in 1910

Jack Garey served for 12 years on Southwestern’s board of trustees and was appointed in 2017 as the university’s second life trustee. Camille Garey, who died in 2012, also served as a trustee at Southwestern. This isn’t the first time the Gareys have made large gifts to benefit Georgetown.  They gave a beautiful 525-acre ranch and $5 million to the city of Georgetown for the development of Garey Park.