Richard Douglas and Judith Watson Perkins Endowed Presidential Scholarship
Dick and Judy Perkins: Supporting Student Projects for a Decade
Pictured above from L to R: Aerospace Chair Dr. Philip Varghese, Judy Perkins, Dean Greg Fenves, and Dick Perkins at the Longhorn Engineering Rendezvous on March 31 at NASA-JSC.
Whether through creating endowments or through donations funneled toward student projects like Design-Build-Fly, Zero Gravity experiments, and the Longhorn Rocket Association, the giving spirit of Dick and Judy Perkins fosters the same high-caliber education they received themselves at UT.
For Dick Perkins (BSAsE '64, MSAsE '66), attending the University of Texas was a no-brainer. His parents met while attending the University and were lifelong lovers of the school, so with Dick's passion for airplanes and the University's strong aerospace department, it didn't make sense to go anywhere else. "My father told me my time at UT would be special, and in fact it was," Dick said. As it turned out, Dick maintains close friendships to this day with several of his roommates and, most importantly, met his wife Judy (BSEDU ’66) on the Forty Acres as well.
"We've had a good life in large measure because of the education from the Cockrell School of Engineering as well as the entire University of Texas experience," Dick said. Judy's strong belief in supporting education and Dick's gratitude for the outstanding education he received at the Cockrell School made it easy to justify them giving back to the University.
Dick and Judy have established four endowments at UT for both the Cockrell School and the College of Liberal Arts. Their generous support to the aerospace engineering department for almost a decade has provided students with hands-on experience in applying classroom theory to solve real-world challenges.
"Each week students come to my office asking for funding for their innovative projects," said Dr. Philip Varghese. "It's gifts from alumni like Dick and Judy Perkins that make these projects a reality and enable students to gain an even stronger and richer educational experience that will support them in their careers."
Dick recalls that when he and two fellow ASE roommates, Dan Kubin and Bill Richter, were recruited for Humble Oil and Refining Company, now Exxon Mobil, the recruiters emphasized the company's need for an engineering approach to problem-solving. “Mr. Pennebaker and Mr. Parks told us that the ASE studies of fluids and strength of materials were all we needed to assimilate into the Humble world of oil and gas production.”
From The Humble Company, Dick and Judy jumped into independent consulting in petroleum engineering in 1977 to what is now known as Cox & Perkins Exploration, Inc. Dick also serves on the UT Engineering Advisory Board and the President's Council and helps with Shakespeare at Winedale.
Judy, whose dedication to education comes from her elementary school teaching career, eight years of service on the Spring Branch ISD Board of Trustees, and a tour on the Advisory Board of Houston Community College, also gives her time to the University. She serves on the UT Liberal Arts Development Board, the UT Chancellor's Council, and the Shakespeare at Winedale Board.
"The University of Texas is rich in history and tradition but not, as many assume, rich in funds," Dick said. "I think it is important for all of the alumni to give back to UT, and especially the aerospace department, to continue to improve the school’s standings, allow current students to learn in a challenging environment, and to continue to have a diverse and talented group of professors. It would be fantastic to have all alumni give at least $100/year — what a difference it would make to the department."
To support student projects and/or the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, please contact Amanda Brown at 512-471-4046 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story was written by Tara Haelle.