The University of Texas at El Paso's Woody L. Hunt College of Business now honors one of the city's top businessmen and philanthropists.
The college's new name was announced Thursday morning in celebration of the Woody and Gayle Hunt Family Foundation's $25 million gift to the university.
The largest endowment in UTEP's history will fund initiatives in teaching and research on trade and commerce between the United States and Mexico.
"Mexico is America's second-largest trading partner, and 20% of U.S. trade with Mexico flows through El Paso," said UTEP President Heather Wilson. "This generous gift from the Hunt family will make the Woody L. Hunt College of Business the place to go to study and research trade and business between our countries. This is a transformational gift that will impact this region for decades to come."
The gift will create scholarship and experiential learning opportunities for students pursuing a business degree at UTEP – one of the few business schools along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a news release from the university.
Those present at the announcement, including Mayor Oscar Leeser and city Reps. Claudia Rodriguez and Isabel Salcido, gave three standing ovations and cheered throughout the reveal.
Woody L. Hunt said the university has been the community's strongest asset in preparing the next generation of business leaders, entrepreneurs, engineers, teachers and scientists who will power the Borderplex.
"Our family's vision for this investment is that UTEP will become a destination school for those wishing to specialize and truly gain an advanced education in U.S-Mexico business, international trade and commerce, continuing to shape our future business leaders."
James Payne, dean of the Woody L. Hunt College of Business, said the gift will allow the college to be flexible and seize upon opportunities that further its mission of serving a binational business community.
"We want to recruit new research fellows, send students to Congress or invite guest speakers to campus," Payne said. "This funding will allow us to do so."
James B. Milliken, chancellor of the UT System, said Hunt embodies the UTEP spirit.
"Over the years, the Hunt Family Foundation has been one of UTEPs greatest supporters, investing in everything from student financial aid to faculty salaries, to entrepreneurship, to keeping the iconic Sun Bowl as a great sports venue," Milliken said.
The Hunt family has longstanding ties to the university.
Hunt's parents, Jack and Dorothy Woodley Hunt, also attended UTEP, previously known as the Texas College of Mines. They graduated from the college of business in 1941 and 1942. He met his wife Gayle at UTEP in an English class and later graduated with his bachelor's and MBA in finance from the University of Texas at Austin.
Hunt is the senior chairman of the board at Hunt Cos. Inc., a family-owned holding company that invests in operating businesses, real estate and infrastructure assets.
He is the first El Pasoan in over 40 years to serve on the University of Texas System Board of Regents. He currently leads the Texas Commission on Community College Finance.
"Know this is a gift not just for the College of Business but for the entire El Paso region," Wilson said. "Going forward, when someone wants to master U.S-Mexico business or understand more deeply the relationships between our countries when it comes to commerce, one name will stand out. The nation's top experts will be at the Woody. L Hunt College of Business."
This article originally appeared on El Paso Times: UTEP receives $25 million gift for Woody L. Hunt College of Business