Beloved philanthropist and educator Teresa Lozano Long passed away peacefully on March 21, 2021, with Joe R. Long, her loving husband of 63 years, holding her hand. She was 92.
Teresa Lozano Long was born July 20, 1928, in Premont, Texas, and grew up there on her parents’ dairy farm. She graduated from high school as valedictorian at age 16, and went on to earn bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from The University of Texas at Austin. She would become the first Mexican American woman to earn a doctorate in health and physical education from the university.
A Passionate Philanthropist
After earning her master’s degree, she moved to Alice, Texas, where she taught physical education at the junior high school for several years. It was there that she met fellow teacher Joe Long, whom she married in 1958. Joe earned his JD from the University of Texas School of Law that same year.
A devoted and financially successful couple, the Longs dedicated a significant part of their wealth to causes about which they were passionate: education, healthcare, the arts, and equal access for underserved communities. In 1999, they established the Long Foundation to support education and the arts in the Austin metropolitan area, as well as initiatives for Hispanic/Latino youth. Over the years, the foundation has expanded its giving to include a wide array of educational and cultural institutions in Texas.
Teresa Lozano Long received numerous high-profile honors for her philanthropy and vision. In 2018, she and Joe received the Santa Rita Award, the highest honor bestowed by the University of Texas System Board of Regents. In November 2019, Lozano Long accepted the National Humanities Medal in a White House ceremony.
Lozano Long’s dedication to community giving was a lifelong passion. Her parents set a strong example by “always helping the community,” she recalled in a 2004 interview. “People would come to our home at all hours of the day to seek advice from my father. My parents instilled in me to give back to the community. If I was educated, I could give back,” Lozano Long said. “One reason my husband and I are so interested in giving scholarships is because we know what education can do.”
Transforming the Institute of Latin American Studies
In 2001, the Longs pledged an endowment of $10 million to the world-renowned Institute of Latin American Studies at UT Austin, which led to its renaming as the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies, also known by its acronym, LLILAS. The institute’s name was significant to Lozano Long in two respects: the inclusion of her maiden name, Lozano, announced its ties to her own heritage, and the inclusion of her first name made clear that the institute was named for a woman.
The Longs’ gift has enabled numerous initiatives, faculty positions, and sources of student funding, among them visiting professorships that bring distinguished scholars from Latin America to teach on the Forty Acres; funding for international research; and endowments to support both undergraduate and graduate students.
“Dr. Long’s legacy and impact on students cannot be overstated,” said Javier Auyero, director of LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, and Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Professor in Latin American Sociology. “The Longs’ unwavering support for LLILAS graduate students, in particular, has enabled attendance in our program by some of the most promising and highly qualified students in the Americas, including Indigenous and Afro-descendant scholars.”
“The legacy of Teresa Lozano Long has been through her financial support of Latin American people in graduate education and research,” said Juan Tiney Chirix of Guatemala, a doctoral student in Latin American Studies who earned his master’s at LLILAS. “I feel so grateful to be part of her legacy because it has opened spaces for me as an Indigenous student, making me believe that my knowledge is valuable in academia.”
Appreciation of Teresa Lozano Long’s work echoes across the university. “Dr. Lozano Long embodied the very ideals of a UT education and its potential to transform lives and better our communities,” said Ann Huff Stevens, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “The College of Liberal Arts is honored to carry forward her legacy through the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies, a program which, through the generous support and direct engagement of Dr. Long and her husband Joe, has provided deep support to students, strengthened Latin American Studies at UT, and reshaped how our world views and engages with Latin America on a global scale.”
In 2011, LLILAS joined forces with the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection to establish an official partnership, LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections. During the period of transition for these two venerable but previously separate units of the university, the Longs provided essential leadership on the LLILAS Benson Advisory Council.
“Teresa Lozano Long has been a steadfast advocate and fierce supporter of the Benson Latin American Collection and its collaborative partnership with the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies,” said Vice Provost and Director of the University of Texas Libraries Lorraine J. Haricombe. “The opportunities created by her generous support of and concern for Latin American initiatives have had enormous impact for students, faculty, and researchers at the university, and for Latin American scholarship worldwide.”
“With the passing of Terry Lozano Long, LLILAS Benson has lost its biggest champion, and she will forever be missed,” said Melissa Guy, director of the Benson Collection. “She cared deeply about our mission, and we are committed to continuing the work she so generously supported: empowering students from under-represented backgrounds and bridging barriers across the Americas.”
A Life That Made a Difference
To work closely with Teresa Lozano Long over the course of years was to be in the presence of a positive woman who made generosity her life’s work, and who strove to realize her vision of a better world.
“Terry Long lived a rich and meaningful life,” said Professor Virginia Garrard, director of LLILAS Benson from 2016–2020. “She loved the world deeply, and in turn, she was deeply loved. She and her husband Joe were generous philanthropists not just by virtue of their wealth but from their hearts. As an advocate of opportunity for young people—especially those with talent and drive who needed a chance—she has helped others give back: young women and Mexican Americans; aspiring musicians and artists; underrepresented students in higher education; future doctors and medical personnel desiring to work with underserved populations. Terry and Joe Long’s legacy will live on in a generation of young professionals who have been the beneficiaries of their vision and generosity.”
“This is truly the passing of a giant,” said Dee Smith, chair of the LLILAS Benson Advisory Council. “Not only was it a privilege to work with Terry Long over the past eight years and to support what she and Joe made possible by their generosity to LLILAS Benson, it was indeed a great pleasure to do so. One of the remarkable things about her was that she was unfailingly cheerful and optimistic; she radiated gratitude wherever she went—gratitude just to be alive. This is really worth emulating.”
For Myra Leo Atkins, past chair of the LLILAS Benson Advisory Council, Teresa Lozano Long was a mentor and close friend. “Her passion for education and philanthropy was always foremost on her mind,” said Leo Atkins. “She encouraged so many Latinas to pursue our dreams and make a difference in the world. Through their generosity, the Longs have not only modeled love of community but the need to be of service to one another. That legacy makes us a better society—one that will inspire generations to come. I will deeply miss my friend.”
All of us at LLILAS Benson and the College of Liberal Arts extend our heartfelt thoughts to our friend Joe Long, and to the many loved ones Teresa Lozano Long leaves behind.
Memorial contributions can be made to Austin Soundwaves, AVANCE-Austin, or the Texas Interscholastic League Foundation, all organizations created to help young people achieve their fullest potential.
This was originally published on Portal, the magazine of the LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections.