Anne Milner Fields and her great nephew UNT alumnus Bryan Milner have pledged $1 million to UNT's College of Business to endow scholarships for study abroad opportunities.
The gift is eligible to be matched by $1 million from alumnus and entrepreneur Charn Uswachoke as part of his historic $22 million gift to the university in 2011. Uswachoke set aside a portion of his gift for matching opportunities as a way to encourage more donors to support UNT. Milner says that the match heavily influenced the timing and amount of the gift.
"The match allows us to double the impact of our pledge and support the study abroad programs that we're passionate about," Milner says.
The Milner/Fields gift is a tribute to a beloved professor, Peyton Foster Roden, who taught Milner finance at UNT. He died last year after teaching at UNT for 37 years. The Milner/Fields gift establishes the Peyton Foster "Doc" Roden Memorial Study Abroad Scholarship Fund. The popular professor was affectionately known as "Doc" to his students and former students.
Milner, vice president of loan originations at Wells Fargo Capital Finance in Dallas, took two study abroad trips to Cuernavaca, Mexico, with Roden. UNT has an exchange program with Tecnológico de Monterrey's Cuernavaca campus, a relationship that spans many years and that Roden was instrumental in establishing. The Milner/Fields gift will make it possible for 40 to 50 UNT students to study international business each semester in various countries.
College of Business Dean Finley Graves says the college has set a goal of having at least 50 percent of its students exposed to other world cultures, either through short-term or semester-long study abroad experiences, an international dual degree or an international internship.
"We are grateful to the Milner family for a gift that will be truly transformative for our students, many of whom would not have the opportunity to go abroad without these scholarships," Graves says. "Business is global, and this gift will help UNT's College of Business become a more nationally recognized program, as well as internationalize its programs."
This is not the first gift from the Milner and Fields families to UNT. In 2004, Fields, also from Dallas, gave $400,000 to establish the James Byron Milner Scholarship in memory of her late brother, a rancher from East Texas. The full scholarship is awarded each year to a student from Byron and Anne's hometown of Winnsboro, Texas.
Milner says his great aunt is a strong believer in the importance of higher education. When he decided to return to college and earn his degree at UNT after a five-year absence -- he attended the University of Texas at Austin straight out of high school -- she paid for his education. She also has paid for the education of several other relatives and a few people from her hometown of Winnsboro.
In addition to her belief in education, she also is passionate about travel.
"She has traveled everywhere," Milner says. "She and her brother Joe Milner, who was head of the journalism department at Arizona State, took my cousins and me all over Europe and South America. We went on great trips."
Buddy Price with UNT News Service can be reached at Buddy.Price@unt.edu.