News and analysis
February 06, 2011

No. 41 (tied): Mary E. McKinney

Courtesy of UTSA

Mary E. McKinney

Amount donated in 2010: $25-million

Beneficiary: University of Texas at San Antonio

Donor’s background: Ms. McKinney was a retired elementary schoolteacher who inherited securities and ranchland containing oil and gas rights from her parents.

Ms. McKinney, who was 79 when she died in 2009, left at least $25-million to the University of Texas at San Antonio for scholarships. She did not attend the university until late in life. She had earned a bachelor’s degree in 1950 from Trinity University, in San Antonio, and a master’s degree in education from the University of Texas at Austin in 1952.

In the 1990s she decided to take some graduate-level courses at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Standing in line in 1991 to pay her tuition, she overheard a couple of students talking about their struggle to pay their tuition. Without saying a word, Ms. McKinney stepped out of the line and went upstairs to the university’s development office, where she wrote a check for $4,000 to donate for financial aid. She ended up donating a total of $250,000 to the university before this bequest, which represents the bulk of her estate.

— Maria Di Mento

View more profiles of donors who gave the most in 2010.