- John Stilwell, Ph.D., JD and Nancy M. O’Neil
The late Bill Booziotis, president of Booziotis and Company Architects and former CVL councilmember, was drawn early on to the research occurring at the Center for Vital Longevity.
"All of us older individuals are interested in what the Center is doing, especially with their concentration on brain research," Booziotis said. "As I have found out more about CVL, I've been impressed with what this small division is accomplishing in terms of gathering new data in the rarified field of brain research."
Inspired, Booziotis and his late wife, Jean, aimed to bring more recognition to the Center's efforts. They established the Jean and Bill Booziotis Opportunity Fund for the Center for Vital Longevity to aid the efforts of a group of distinguished cognitive neuroscientists. Positive experiences with charitable gift annuities at other institutions led to Booziotis and his wife to also set up a similar arrangement with UT Dallas to further support CVL.
"Gift annuities have been a win-win situation," Booziotis once said. "I've had the pleasure of seeing years of income from one and seeing how they can impact a university from another."
Sadly, Booziotis passed in 2016, however, his memory lives on with those at the Center.
Couple Jerri Hammer MS '97 and David Pomberg were drawn to the UT Dallas Center for Vital Longevity through personal experiences.
"We've witnessed the devastation and heartbreak that Alzheimer's and dementia have brought to so many family members and friends that we felt compelled to give our support to an organization dedicated to eradicating these conditions," Hammer said.
The Center brings together a group of research scientists who are using advanced brain-imaging technologies and research techniques in cognitive neuroscience to understand, maintain and improve the vitality of the aging mind.
"It seems like the medical community is making great strides to keep our limbs and organs functioning as we age, but has not achieved the same progress with our brains," said Hammer. "Our hope is that through our gifts and others like it, the solution to keeping our brains as active and agile as our bodies will be discovered and implemented in our lifetime."
The couple lives in Richardson, Texas, with their two children.
"We are giving because we think it's very important for CVL to lead the way in discovering ways to keep our brains as healthy as our bodies," Hammer said.
As an alumna, graduate student and staff member of UT Dallas, Michelle Miller has an appreciation for the impact of philanthropy.
Miller decided to give back through a bequest that will benefit the Naveen Jindal School of Management, which helped expand her successful career in business and technology. Her gift will also benefit the University's Center for Vital Longevity. The Center's research on age and cognitive functioning hits close to home for Michelle, who lost her mother to an incurable brain disease in 2009.
"People often don't realize that they don't need to be wealthy before they can make a planned gift," she said. "Your ending can support someone else's beginning, which can make planned giving feel less intimidating."
Miller values the freedom and choices available through planned giving. "When you make a commitment of this kind in your 30s and 40s, it is deliberate and focused," she said. "You have the liberty to choose where your funds go."
Miller is the director of corporate relations for the Jindal School of Management, where she is also pursuing her Executive MBA.