Recently, United States President Donald Trump presented the National Humanities Medal, among the country’s highest civilian honors, to retired Austin educator Teresa Lozano Long, according to the Austin Stateman.
“I wish really it was given to my husband and me,” Long said referring to her husband, retired banker and lawyer Joe Long. “Since we do everything together.”
The Long’s were teachers at Alice Independent School District in the 40s and 50s. Teresa Lozano Long grew up in Premont.
A White House statement lauded Long for supporting the arts and improving educational opportunities.
“Through scholarships and philanthropy,” the statement reads, “she has helped America’s children and young adults learn the skills they need to succeed.”
Other medal honorees include bluegrass-country singer and musician Alison Krauss, Academy Award-winning actor Jon Voight and best-selling author James Patterson.
The Longs are perhaps best known in Austin as the namesakes for the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Center for the Performing Arts, the large theater complex on the shores of Lady Bird Lake. Almost two decades ago, the Longs donated more than $20 million to the project, at a time when gifts of such size were rarely heard of in Austin.
Scholars and students are also aware that the couple endowed the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies at the University of Texas with a $10 million gift.
The Longs are known throughout Texas for their philanthropy, and not just in the arts and humanities. Products of small-town Texas — she grew up on a dairy farm in Premont — they dreamed of helping others not long after they graduated from the University of Texas.
“South Texas, where I grew up, did not have many doctors,” Teresa Long said. “If my mother got sick, my father took her to San Antonio. This was before air-conditioned cars, so we got up very early in the morning to sit in the waiting room. There were no telephones where we lived.”
As the Longs moved up in the world — she armed with a doctorate, he with a law degree — they talked more about giving back.
“I said, ‘Joe, we need to get better medical care for South Texas,’” Long said. ”‘One day if we make a little money, can we give a scholarship to the medical school in San Antonio?’ Joe said: ‘For sure, we’ll do that.’”
The Longs first endowed a scholarship at a small college. Later, they were able to give much more.
In 2017, their $25 million gift allowed them to name the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.
This will not be Long’s first trip to the White House. She attended a reception there while she served on the National Endowment for the Arts during the George W. Bush presidency.
“Barbara Bush was there,” Long recalled. “She was as gracious as always.”
Last year, the Longs received the University of Texas System’s highest honor, the Santa Rita Award.
“No doubt her philanthropy has been extensive, but Teresa as a person has been one of the most positive, truly lovely humans I’ve worked with,” Austin social and charity leader Mary Herr Tally said on Monday. “As with any capital campaign, we had challenging moments during the formation of the Long Center for the Performing Arts, but Teresa’s grace, intellect, generosity and beautiful, inclusive energy truly played a vital role in our success.”
Through the Long Foundation, the couple has set up a $10 million permanent fund for scholarships for Hispanic youth across the state. They love hearing from students in “teeny-tiny” towns who would not be able to attend college otherwise.
“We always said that if we made enough money, we needed to help the people of Texas,” Long said.
Article courtesy of Austin Statesman