AUSTIN (KXAN) — Teresa Lozano Long will be honored with the National Humanities Medal by President Donald Trump. A ceremony for the annual award will take place in the White House on Thursday morning.
The National Humanities Medal celebrates people who have “deepened the nation’s understanding of the humanities and broadened our citizen’s engagement with history, literature, languages, philosophy, and other humanities.”
The opera, the symphony, a ballet are staples of major American cities. They call the Long Center for the Performing Arts home in Austin because of Joe and Teresa Lozano Long.
“It’s fair to say that Austin would not be the same without the Longs,” said President and CEO of the Long Center Cory Baker. She says around one-fourth of the money to build the Center came from the couple, more than $20 million dollars.
She says Teresa Lozano Long visits often to ensure their namesake is a positive, encouraging environment for the arts.
“We always love that people write the checks, that’s incredibly important. But the Longs really show up. They come out for performances,” said Baker.
Long’s reach goes beyond the shores of Lady Bird Lake. Growing up on a small-town dairy farm, she became the first Hispanic woman to receive a doctorate in health and physical education in Texas. Along the way, she and her husband amassed a fortune. They gave $25 million to the School of Medicine at the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio, $10 million for Hispanic scholarships across the state, and another $10 million for the Institute of Latin American Studies at UT-Austin.
“Teresa Lozano Long is an example to us all in her generosity and steadfast support of education and the arts,” Virginia Garrard, director of LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, told KXAN, “In particular, the consistent contribution of Dr. Long and her husband Joe R. Long as benefactors and supporters of the Institute of Latin American Studies has created rich and significant educational opportunities for countless students, many of them Latinos, and has had an enormous and positive impact in scholarship on Latin America, with benefits far beyond our campus.”
This all – at a time – when Baker says the arts and humanities would not be the same without them.
“Absolutely not. The models have changed. You hear about the arts getting away from schools and funding going down across the board so it’s really on the shoulders of people like the Longs,” said Baker.
Thursday night, along with the UT-Tower, the columns of the Center for Performing Arts will be lit in orange – in honor of the Longs.
Other medal honorees today at the White House include bluegrass singer Alison Krauss, Academy Award-winning actor Jon Voight, and best-selling author James Patterson