Dear friends and supporters of The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas, the Great books program at the
University of Texas,
We are writing to you about a happy challenge that we have encountered as the second semester gets under way.
It concerns our “Jefferson Scholars Program.” As you may know, we started it in spring 2011 as a way of building
a small community among undergraduates who are interested in the great books. Students in all the university’s honors programs and students with a 3.5 GPA who are pursuing our Core Texts certificate program are eligible. The scholarship has been giving them $300 each semester to begin building their own library of great books and to buy rush tickets to plays, operas, classical music concerts, etc. We also budgeted a small amount to hold a “take your professor to lunch” event a couple of times each semester (they get to invite their favorite professors and they all go to the ATT Center for a nice lunch). These lunches proved so popular that this year we have expanded the program to allow each scholar to go several times. In addition, we include the scholars in events meeting visiting lecturers. The scholars themselves soon started organizing twice-weekly coffee hours for themselves, and sometimes they cook meals together. These social activities are now costing us about $100 per scholar per semester.
The result has been everything we hoped. Telling our Ancient Philosophy and Literature class about the program this semester, since there were three former Jefferson Scholars in the class, we offered them a chance to say something about the program. Onesaid, “It was the best thing I ever did at UT.” Another said, “getting my box of books was the high point of the semester.” A third said, “My whole year last year revolved around the Jefferson Scholars and the friendships I made in that group.”
In the first several semesters we got 12-20 applications, of which 10-15 were well qualified. Last semester we were pleased to get more applications, 26 of them well qualified. We had not budgeted for so many; but with the help of a couple of donors who responded to a last minute appeal, we were able to accept them all. Now, as this semester starts, the word seems to have spread and caught fire, and wehave received to our pleasant but embarrassed surprise 36 fine applicants. We have an already tight budget and not enough money. We need $400 for each scholar, and are about $8000 short. We don’t want to turn these good students away and we would rather not cut what is already a pretty modest allotment for each one. $300 doesn’t buy many books and the lunches with professor are a key source of otherwise unavailable interaction between students and faculty they like.
So we are writing to all our supporters, asking if you might consider supporting one or more of these young people as Jefferson Scholars for this semester by sending us $400. Checks can be made out to the university of Texas for the Jefferson Center and sent to
Thomas Jefferson Center
University of Texas
158 W 21st St.
Austin TX 78712-1719
Or you may make a gift online by using the form at: https://utdirect.utexas.edu/nlogon/vip/ogp.WBX?menu=LACT.
Please pass this on to anyone you think might be interested.
Thanks for considering this,
Lorraine Pangle and Thomas L. Pangle
Co-Directors, Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas