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MacKenzie Scott Donates $40 Million To UT-San Antonio To Boost Enrollment, Retention And Graduation Rates

MacKenzie Scott has given multimillion-dollar gifts to several Texas public universities.
Danny Moloshok
MacKenzie Scott has given multimillion-dollar gifts to several Texas public universities.

Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott and her husband, Dan Jewett, have donated $40 million to the University of Texas at San Antonio, which the university plans to use to boost student enrollment, retention and graduation rates at the Hispanic-serving institution.

It is the latest multimillion-dollar donation that Scott, who owns 4% of Amazon and used to be married to its founder, Jeff Bezos, has made to colleges and universities across the state and country.

“This gift is completely transformational for us, for our students, and for our community — it is a tremendous investment in our collective future. A college education is the best way to address inequities that exist in our communities,” said university President Taylor Eighmy in a press release announcing the gift.

He said the university will announce plans for the unrestricted gift later this year.

According to the university, 75% of the 34,000 students who attend UT-San Antonio receive some financial aid. Around 56% of students are Hispanic. The university has seen its graduation rate increase in recent years, with its six-year graduation rate increasing from 31% in 2015 to 46%. Scott and Jewett chose to donate to the university because of its work to help students from under-resourced communities, the release said.

UTSA is also an aspiring Carnegie R1 university, the top research distinction among higher education institutions. University officials said this money would also help officials pursue that goal.

In December, Scott donated $50 million to Prairie View A&M University, a historically Black university, and $40 million to Texas A&M International University in Laredo, which primarily serves Hispanic students. Both gifts are the largest in each university’s history.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at San Antonio, Prairie View A&M University and Texas A&M International University have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

Kate McGee covers higher education for The Texas Tribune. She joins after nearly a decade as a reporter at public radio stations across the country. She most recently covered higher ed at WBEZ in Chicago, but started on the education beat in 2013 at KUT in Austin. She has also worked at NPR affiliates in Washington D.C., New York City and Reno, Nevada. Kate was born in New York City and primarily raised in New Jersey. She graduated from Fordham University. Her work has appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here and Now, and The Takeaway.