Susan J. Neff Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Education

Mar 7, 2012 | EPS/EPF

The Susan J. Neff Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Education was established by the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System on March 7, 2012, to benefit The University of Texas College of Education. The endowment honors Mrs. Susan Brown Neff. Gift funds were provided by Mr. Donald Thomas Neff.

Because of Susan Neff, Saturday was like Sunday in her house, but instead of wearing one’s Sunday best, the outfit was always burnt orange. A graduate of the College of Education, Susan loved everything Texas, from her burnt orange shirt to the bumper sticker on her car.

She brought this same passion to her family as a loving wife to her husband, Tom, mother to her sons Brian, Brad, and Brandon, and grandmother to their children. Susan was a strong and courageous woman who fought cancer for nine years before succumbing to the disease at the age of 58.

Susan Neff with her family.
The Neff family wanted to establish this endowment in Susan’s honor to help provide educational opportunities to students so that they, too, can experience the joy of being a Longhorn.

The family hopes that anyone touched by this endowment will have that same joyful spirit and always remember, as Susan did, that life is about overcoming all odds.

Brian Neff says of his mother:

“My mother showed me what it meant to always fight for what you believe in even in the midst of life’s greatest challenges. Not just with her words but in her actions as well. She showed me how to love as she loved and cared for her husband, my brothers, and me. She and my father provided guidance at every step in our lives emotionally, spiritually, physically, and financially as well. They raised my brothers and me in a time when things weren’t always easy, and after having children of my own I realize now the challenges that she and my father faced. She showed me how to deal with those challenges head-on and to always persevere. I have always been humbled by her quiet yet unwavering strength and compassion. She could light up a room with her physical beauty and win over hearts and minds with her internal beauty, which would explode from her soul with just the crack of her smile.

Susan and Tom Neff

“I would like everyone to know how courageous and strong my mother was. She fought cancer for five years. It was not always an easy fight. There were ups, and there were downs. At one point she was hospitalized for three months. The doctors told us that her chances of survival were very slim, but she fought back and overcame all challenges. She taught herself to walk, talk, and eat again. After that episode, she fought the disease for four more years. I would like for anyone who is touched by this endowment to have the same spirit and always remember, just as she did, that life is about overcoming all odds.”

Susan Neff with her son, Brad.

Brad Neff says of his mother: 

She and my father, Tom Neff, transformed me from a young immature boy into a responsible adult. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for me, my father, my brothers, or any other human being. She is the reason why I decided to study at The University of Texas at Austin, where I met my wife and completely transformed my life. I don’t think there’s any doubt that she was and still remains the biggest influence on my life.

One thing that most people may not know about my mom is that she was one of the most devout Texas football fans on the planet. For being such a soft-spoken individual, she screamed the loudest for her beloved Longhorns on game day. I would wait by the phone after a football game because I knew the next call was coming from Mom. Mack Brown would have loved to have her on his staff … she was one of the best analysts I’ve ever met. She was obsessed, to say the least.

When Mom graduated from UT Austin, she took a little piece of the University with her and spread it to others, including my brothers and me. This is our way of bringing that piece of the University back home, allowing it to grow and create opportunities for UT students. This endowment continues the legacy that she started in her lifetime.

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