McDonald Observatory, Department of Astronomy Complete $2 Million Director's Chair Endowment

2 November 2006

With the help of 141 donors and the Abell-Hanger Foundation of Midland, The University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory and Department of Astronomy have completed the new $2-million “Frank and Susan Bash Endowed Chair for the Director of McDonald Observatory.”

Fundraising for the endowment began in 2003. In the spring of 2006, with $300,000 to be raised, the Abell-Hanger Foundation provided a challenge grant of $150,000, offering to match new gifts dollar-for-dollar. This enabled McDonald Observatory to complete the endowment by the end of September 2006.

The Bash Chair Endowment will benefit future directors of the Observatory, allowing them to continue their research programs while handling the administrative duties of the directorship. Dean Mary Ann Rankin of the College of Natural Sciences describes this endowment as “the cornerstone of future development of McDonald Observatory.”

Dean Rankin adds: “We are grateful to Bill Nowlin for his leadership of the committee that worked to raise this endowment. We are also grateful to Jeff and Gail Kodosky, Houston and Carolyn Harte, Ford and Lindsay Smith, and Bill and Bettye Nowlin, as they were all principal donors to the endowment.”

“We are particularly thankful to the trustees of the Abell-Hanger Foundation” says Dr. David Lambert, Director of McDonald Observatory,  “for their challenge grant which enabled us to bring in 95 new donations to complete the endowment.”

In 2005, Dean Rankin announced that the endowment would be named in honor of Frank and Susan Bash. “Frank and Susan Bash have been inspiring leaders to the astronomy community of Texas and we are pleased to honor them in this way,” Rankin said. Construction and commissioning of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope, the world’s third-largest, were completed during Frank Bash’s 14-year tenure as McDonald Observatory Director. He also began the Observatory’s efforts to reach out to Texas teachers and K-12 students, with the goal of interesting more students in careers in science and technology.

“McDonald Observatory and the Department of Astronomy will benefit for many decades because of the generous spirit of all the people who have given to the Frank and Susan Bash Endowed Chair,” says Department of Astronomy Chair Don Winget. “We are especially happy that this honors our colleague Frank Bash and his wife.”

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Additional Media Contact:

Joel W. Barna, Development Manager
McDonald Observatory and Dept. of Astronomy
The University of Texas at Austin
512-471-6335; 512-567-7036 (mobile)