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Tree of Life Grows in Seay

Tree of Life Grows in Seay
Rendering of the Tree of Life installation in the Seay Building.

Rendering of the Tree of Life installation in the Seay Building.

In addition to giving money to the Phyllis L. Richards Endowed Professorship in Child Development, which will support a professor in the Human Development and Family Sciences program, Mr. and Mrs. Dick Rathgeber wanted to give a gift that would inspire further giving.


So in collaboration with the Department of Human Ecology, and with Professor Emeritus Richards (whose own gift launched the endowment), the Rathgebers commissioned a unique work of public art that will grow as the endowment grows.

The two-story high “Tree of Life,” which is located in the lobby of the Sarah M. and Charles E. Seay building, was created by Austin artist Susan Wallace to honor both the legacy of Dr. Richards, who’s been a pioneer in the area of child development and education for more than 50 years, and the future of the institutions to which Dr. Richards contributed so much.

The names of contributors to the endowment will be added to the Tree itself—on a gold leaf for contributors of $10,000, and on a copper leaf for contributors of $5,000. Other donors will be honored in a Donor Book located by the Tree.

“It turned out to be something absolutely magnificient,” says Dr. Richards, who’s known the Rathgebers for more than 30 years and thinks of them as her “Texas family.”

When fully funded, the $500,000 Professorship Endowment will not only support a world-class scholar who will coordinate research and academic instruction between the Human Development and Family Sciences program and the Priscilla Pond Flawn Child and Family Laboratory (the Lab School), it will serve as a launching pad for expanding the graduate program, it will make it easier to attract outside funding for the school and the program, and it will help facilitate further faculty recruitment.

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Tuesday, 21 September 2021

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