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Lowell H. Lebermann, Jr.
Date of Passing
LOWELL H. LEBERMANN, JR. of Austin was appointed to a six year term on the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System by Governor Ann Richards in 1993 and served as a Vice- Chairman of the Board from March 1993 to March 1995. He continues to serve as chairman of the U. T. System Process Review Committee with a mandate to recommend procedures and methodologies by which the governance and management of the System may be made more effective and efficient.
Since 1981, Mr. Lebermann has been president and owner of Centex Beverage Inc. of Austin, a wholesale beer distributor. He previously owned the Lebermann Lincoln-Mercury dealership in Austin. He has been a member of the board of directors of Valero Energy Corp. and First City National Bank of Austin, and he has served as Vice president for development of the Austin Chamber of Commerce.
Mr. Lebermann was a member of the Austin City Council from 1971 to 1977. He also served as treasurer of the Democratic Party of the State of Texas in 1981. From 1991 to 1993, he was a member of the board of directors of the Texas Workers' Compensation Insurance Fund.
His many community and civic activities include membership on the Development Board of The University of Texas at Austin, The Chancellor's Council of the U.T. System, the Symposium Planning Committee of the LBJ School of Public Affairs, and the board of trustees of the National Wildflower Research Center. He also has served as vice president of the U.T. Austin Ex-Students' Association and is a member of the Longhorn Foundation.
Mr. Lebermann is a past president of the Capitol Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America and has been an active supporter of the Austin Symphony, the Paramount Theatre of Austin, Laguna Gloria Art Museum, the Sundance Institute, and the Texas Nature Conservancy.
Numerous organizations have honored Mr. Lebermann ,for his contributions to society. He is a recipient of the Pro Bene Meritis Award of the U.T. Austin College of Liberal Arts, the Brotherhood Award of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, the State Liberty Bell Award of the Young Lawyers Association of Texas, and the "People of Vision" award of the Texas Society to Prevent Blindness.
Mr. Lebermann attended U.T. Austin from 1957 to 1962. He was a student in the Plan II honors program, and he was elected president of the Students' Association for 1962.
last updated in March 1995
Daily Texan, February 26, 1999
With nine academic universities and six health institutions, the University of Texas System oversees the needs and problems -- including fund allocation and enrollment management -- of its 15 components. As if that isn't enough, the UT System is also responsible for catering to the scholastic needs of 145,604 students.
But maintaining the demands of 15 component institutions is a task the UT Board of Regents takes on every day. Former UT Regent Lowell Lebermann said managing the UT System takes strong organization and leadership. "It's like managing a huge government or corporation, where you have 68,000 faculty and staff and 140,000 students," Lebermann said. "Management and economics play big roles in keeping everything running smoothly."
Even with UT-Austin as the flagship institution, the Board of Regents keeps close tabs on the activities and problems faced by the other components. Lebermann said that each institution's president reports to the regents at their four meetings every year, so communication lines are always open. He added each regents' meeting is at a different UT campus so the regents get a good feeling of what issues each school faces. "We're on their campuses looking at new buildings, meeting faculty, staff and students, and interacting," Lebermann said. "So we have a sense of everything that's going on."
But the 15 components have different needs from the regents. While UT-Austin is grappling with limiting enrollment and housing all incoming freshmen, other schools are worried about bolstering their enrollment. "Each campus has its own set of issues," said Monty Jones, director of news and public information for the UT System. "For example, at UT-Austin, there's enrollment issues. Other campuses are looking to grow so they don't face that problem. A lot of our components draw students from particular regions, such as UT-Brownsville, while UT-Austin draws statewide."
UT-Dallas is one component looking to increase enrollment. Mary Sias, UT-Dallas vice president for student affairs and external relations, said a recruitment effort yielded a 6 percent increase in their student body this year. "We are particularly concerned with transfer recruitment and ensuring we are adequately recruiting minority students," Sias said. Sias said UT-Dallas would like to increase enrollment from 9,560 students to 15,000 within the next few years. She also said UT-Dallas attracts many more non-traditional students than the University, with a larger number of students enrolled in night classes to complete a degree.
Sias said her school keeps in close contact with the system since UT Regent Rita Clements and former Regent Thomas Hicks live in the Dallas area. Other components with different missions than UT-Austin find the UT System helpful in addressing problems they face.
Roy Bode, vice president of public affairs at the UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, said health and academic institutions share some similar issues. "Some of the information might be similar having to do with the expenditure and accreditation standards that are common to all components of the system," Bode said. "Certainly, we have a great need for resources and support of the regents for all of the programs. That's no different from other components of the UT system." But he added a medical school caters to a different student dynamic. "We're primarily a graduate institution and we don't have the needs of student recruitment as other undergraduate institutions might," Bode said.
While all UT campuses face diverse issues, Lebermann stressed that replacing top administrators in each institution ranks among the regents' most important tasks. "In the last five or six years, we have replaced six presidents," Lebermann said. "With everything we do as regents, the most important thing we do is choose leaders for academic institutions."
Determining budget needs is among other responsibilities of the regents, with each institution requiring different amounts of funding. "A mosaic would be implied with 15 campuses, all different missions, projects and programs. Some are more involved in research and some aren't involved in research at all," Lebermann said. "Each campus has extremely varied budgets. It's a solid, thoughtful professional system in the way money is distributed."
The UT System holds the second-largest endowment in the nation, totaling $12 billion dollars. Of that amount the Permanent University Fund (PUF) -- the revenue generated from stock market and oil investments to financially support Texas public universities -- makes up $7.1 billion, Jones said.
He added the UT System receives about two-thirds of the PUF. The money from the PUF is generally used by UT schools to fund new construction, make equipment purchases and provide academic enhancement funds to the University. "After construction projects are paid for, UT-Austin gets what's left," Jones said. "It's about $70 million a year for academic enhancement programs."
UT-Austin President Larry Faulkner said some of the money is allocated to help fledgling new programs that need financial assistance. "One thing that's peculiar about UT is that the budget is very source-driven," Faulkner said. "Where the dollars come from depends on what the money can be used for." Despite the number of tasks the regents face managing 15 institutions, dedication to great educations is key for students' success, Lebermann said.
"We want the students to have the best education and opportunities attending a UT school," he said.
San Antonio Business Journal, October 15, 2004
Lebermann's vision for business, community drives his success
by Paula Syptak Price
At 65, Lowell H. Lebermann has built several businesses, including the beverage distributorship he heads up today. He serves on numerous community boards, mentors students, and has been both an involved father and good friend. Not bad for a life that has come with its share of challenges.
But one of the challenges Lebermann has faced sets his success apart: He was building his business career while he was losing his eyesight, and was blind by age 28.
By that time, however, his love of entrepreneurship had been well established.
At age 12, Lebermann and a friend borrowed money from their fathers to buy fireworks and create fireworks stands. Within two years, they were driving to surrounding towns, selling fireworks out of a pickup truck, while their friends were selling from the stands back home in Commerce, Texas.
"You could get a drivers license at 14 back then," Lebermann says. "We not only had a good time, we paid our fathers back in the first year.
"The same guy and I had a snow cone stand," he continues. "And like other kids, I had car wash businesses. I always had some sort of business going on."
While he was earning a degree at the University of Texas in Austin, in "Plan II," an honors liberal arts program, Lebermann and his father started a rental real estate office.
"I continued to operate and expand it beyond graduation," Lebermann says.
He then bought a Lincoln Mercury dealership.
"I got in the car business because I needed an operating business," he remembers.
When a wholesale beer distribution opportunity popped up in 1981, he sold the car dealership and bought into the beverage distribution market. Under his leadership, it took only four years for business at Centex Beverage to triple.
Always along side of earning a living, Lebermann serves the community. He served on the Austin City Council from 1971-1976.
He's interested in such a variety of things that he has helped not only his alma mater and his city, but also the state, while affecting future generations.
"I think citizens have got to serve in a variety of ways," Lebermann says.
Indeed, variety directs his choices.
Lebermann mentors students and provides scholarships, such as the Texas Excellence Scholars, to help young adults get a head start on their dreams. He sits on numerous advisory committees, including the Lady Bird Johnson National Wildflower Center, and the 360 Summit, an annual technology conference.
He has a vision for Central Texas and participates in the planning of its long-term growth, particularly in the areas of health care and transportation. He remains an active founding member of the Seton (Hospital) Fund. Serving as vice-chair of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, his focus is to reduce traffic congestion in Central Texas.
While an Austin City Council member, he sponsored a study of the city's area waterways, and created the city's environmental resource management office.
His assistant, Nannette Chandler, says she is amazed by the commitment, perseverance, and hours that Lebermann devotes to activities apart from his business ventures.
"He does these things not because he has to, but because he cares so deeply about them," she says.
Learning by exampleLebermann traces his interest in community issues to his family's civic involvement.
"My father was a practicing physician, mayor of our small town, and president of the school board. My grandmother, Virginia Lebermann, was on countless boards and commissions in Austin, as well as sitting on numerous civic boards while running a photographic studio, Christianson-Lebermann. My mother was also very involved in things."
The lesson came through.
"I watched relatives and mentors doing civic things as well as earn a living," he says. "I learned that was important."
Serving as student body president during his senior year at UT was the first move into his lifelong dedication to community service.
"Being student body president was a fantastic experience," he remembers.
In addition to other reasons, the position was good for boosting his confidence.
"At that point, I was beginning to lose my eye sight in a serious way. Knowing I could still have that level of acceptance even though I had an apparent disability was a huge confidence-builder," he says.
Facing challengesThe word "disability" hardly fits this robust man. He wears an eye patch because his eye was shot out when he was 13 -- a classic "I didn't know the gun was loaded" story involving a friend. He still had one eye left, but it, too, was affected. Loss of sight in the second eye was complete by the time Lebermann was 28. He faced this fact as he faces all challenges.
"You just work around them," he says. "There are all sorts of mechanisms, and I've structured my life around the irritant of blindness in a variety of ways. I'm blessed to have a certain economic stability so I can have personal assistants with me, to read and drive, and help me with preparation for all the meetings I go to."
He does attend a lot of meetings. He is currently active on over 25 boards, committees, and councils.
He still "bleeds orange" for his alma mater, the University of Texas. He sits on six campus boards, and was thrilled to serve on the UT System's Board of Regents from 1993-1999. In appreciation for all his efforts, he was awarded a Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2000.
He considers staying economically viable in the late '80's, during the economic crash, and into the early '90's to be his greatest professional accomplishment.
Besides being a good father to one daughter and five step-children, he counts his public service efforts related to health care and education among his greatest personal accomplishments.
"I enjoy public policy making and public affairs," says Lebermann.
And people appreciate his efforts. Awards include Austinite of the Year, the Brotherhood award, presented by the National Conference of Christians and Jews, the Herbert Hoover Service Award presented by the Boys' Club of Austin, and the Harvey Penick Award for Excellence in the Game of Life, given each year to a prominent community leader whose life illustrates dedication, discipline, and humility.
"He never forgets friendships or relationships," says attorney and Austin business man, Pike Powers, Lebermann's friend for over 30 years.
Powers says he enjoys Lebermann's sense of humor. Aware of his friend's love of big words, Powers describes Lebermann this way: "He's peripatetic and perspicacious." And beyond that, "Lowell has a solid, basic decency that's hard to emulate or duplicate."
Ben Barnes, owner of the Ben Barnes Group and former Texas lieutenant governor, agrees. "What stands out is his tremendous breadth of understanding, not only of business issues, but social and economic issues."
According to Barnes, this includes the economics and politics of other countries.
"He's a unique individual," says Barnes. "You really can't name a problem that Lowell Lebermann has not touched by serving in an official capacity or just getting involved as an individual.
"He is a person of great compassion who gets involved," Barnes continues. "If the business community of Texas and this country all had the same social conscience that Lowell Lebermann has, we'd have a lot of our problems solved."
Paula Syptak Price is a San Antonio-based free-lance writer.