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UT System Regents to bestow highest honor on longtime UT, higher education advocates

Kenneth M. Jastrow, II and Susan Thomas Jastrow, longtime supporters of Texas higher education and The University of Texas at Austin, have been named recipients of the Santa Rita Award, the highest honor bestowed by the UT System Board of Regents.

Susie and Kenny Jastrow
Susie and Kenny Jastrow

The Board unanimously voted to honor the Jastrows during a special board meeting today.

As alumni of UT Austin, the Jastrows have a long history of leadership and service to the 40 Acres. They consistently advocate for improving access to quality higher education opportunities in Texas, and their generous contributions include the establishment of numerous endowments and the support of capital projects and major development campaigns at UT Austin.

“They step up to the call of duty whenever they are asked – and even before they’re asked – to further and deepen the impact of their beloved alma mater,” Board Chairman Kevin Eltife said. “Together, Kenny and Susie Jastrow have made the state of Texas a better place for the next generation of students. Their commitment to higher education has truly been their life’s work.”

The Santa Rita Award recognizes individuals or organizations that have made extraordinary, transformational contributions to UT institutions and demonstrate a deep commitment to higher education and service to the University of Texas community.

Since the creation of the award in 1968, the Board has presented the Santa Rita Award to 27 individuals and one organization.

The award shares a name with Santa Rita No. 1, the first producing oil well on University Lands in West Texas. The well struck oil in 1923, jumpstarting the Permanent University Fund, a unique funding source that continues to benefit UT & Texas A&M institutions today.

Kenny Jastrow, a successful business executive and the former chairman and CEO of Temple-Inland Inc., earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees from UT Austin in 1969 and 1971, respectively.

Since then, Jastrow has served in leadership roles on numerous boards, commissions and committees, including chairman of the historic Commission of 125 and the $3 billion Campaign for Texas in 2013. The Commission of 125 was appointed in 2002 to honor the 125th anniversary of UT Austin and to advance UT’s constitutional directive to be a “university of the first class.” Jastrow led a large body of faculty, students and civic leaders as they developed strategic initiatives to raise UT’s education and research profile. The Campaign for Texas, launched during an economic downturn in Texas, surpassed its goal ahead of its timeline. 

More recently, Jastrow served as chairman of the Special Advisory Committee for the UT Austin presidential search that resulted in the appointment of President Jay Hartzell.

Jastrow was inducted into the McCombs School of Business Hall of Fame in 2003 and named a Distinguished Alumnus by the Texas Exes in 2004. He is the recipient of the UT Austin Presidential Citation, the highest honor bestowed by the university president, and the Mirabeau B. Lamar Medal from the Association of Texas Colleges and Universities. Jastrow was also presented with the Legion of Honor Award by Phi Delta Theta for his lifelong support of his community and university and for his business leadership.

Susie Jastrow, a registered dietitian and diabetes educator, created the Nutrition Services Department in the People’s Community Clinic. She was instrumental in the establishment of the UT Austin Nutrition Institute and served as co-director of its Advisory Board. She has also served on the Blanton Museum National Leadership Board, the Natural Sciences Advisory Council and the Human Ecology Advisory Council. She received the Community Service Award from the Texas Exes in Human Ecology and was named its Alumna of the Year in 2006. The Susan Jastrow Teaching Kitchen, dedicated in her honor in 2017 and known on campus as “Susie’s Kitchen,” hosts summer nutrition and fitness camp sessions for children.

Among the many contributions to UT launched by the Jastrows, one they’re most proud of is “Subiendo: The Academy for Rising Leaders.” The summer leadership program hosted by the McCombs School helps rising high school seniors from economically disadvantaged families experience a real-life college experience and develop leadership skills.

The Jastrows will be presented with the Santa Rita Award by the Board of Regents at a special ceremony in the fall.

About The University of Texas System

For more than 130 years, The University of Texas System has been committed to improving the lives of Texans and people all over the world through education, research and health care. With 13 institutions, an enrollment of more than 243,000 students and an operating budget of $21.7 billion (FY 2021), the UT System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States. UT institutions produce more than 64,000 graduates annually and award more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees and more than half of its medical degrees. Collectively, UT-owned and affiliated hospitals and clinics accounted for more than 8.6 million outpatient visits and almost 1.8 million hospital days in 2020. UT institutions also are among the most innovative in the world, collectively ranking No. 4 for most U.S. patents granted in 2020, and the UT System is No. 1 in Texas and No. 2 in the nation in federal research expenditures. The UT System also is one of the largest employers in Texas, with more than 21,000 faculty – including Nobel laureates and members of the National Academies – and more than 85,000 health care professionals, researchers and support staff.

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