When Lou Ann Weber Harris ’74 and her husband Don discussed their long-term charitable giving, they decided to support the universities that meant so much to both their lives—her alma mater, Trinity University, and his, Lafayette College.
In reviewing their options for giving to Trinity, they chose the charitable gift annuity, a simple contract in which Trinity agreed to pay them a fixed income for their lives in exchange for a gift of highly appreciated stock. In addition to the satisfaction of supporting Trinity and receiving an income stream, partially arriving tax free, they also were eligible for an income tax deduction.
What was especially unusual about the Harris’s gift is that they set up three separate annuities -- all on the same day. One gift annuity provided them an immediate income, payments from the second annuity were deferred a year, and the payments from the third annuity were deferred a year and a half. Deferring the payments to a later date ensured a higher payout rate, staggered payments and certain tax advantages.
Although the annuities offer tax and income benefits, Lou Ann said “those are not the most important reasons. I wanted to give back to that institution that provided those sparks of insight and creativity so many years ago.”
What brought her to Trinity was her father, Jim Weber, an Air Force officer. He “thought Trinity’s smaller size would be less overwhelming than the University of Texas. We visited Trinity and I fell in love with the university. The reputation was stellar and the campus was peaceful, yet stirring,” she said.
Since she could not afford to attend four-years at Trinity on her father’s Air Force salary, they planned for her to attend two years, then transfer to the University of Texas. That’s when Trinity stepped in by providing financial aid, making it possible for her to remain.
Harris attended Trinity during a period of historical tumult in American history, including the Vietnam War, the Watergate crisis and President’s Nixon’s resignation.
“In the midst of chaos, Trinity remained a safe environment to explore and grow with a true spirit of creativity and innovation that defined me for the rest of my life,” she said. “I truly believe that Trinity provided the foundation for any success I have had in my life.
Returning to campus today, Harris observes the university has “only improved with time.”
“But most impressive are the students,” she said. “Bright, capable people who eventually will lead our country. The students are the foundation but more than that, I feel Trinity holds to the core values of education. Students are encouraged to think for themselves. To question, to investigate and not take the world at face-value.”
Eventually, she said, “I hope the annuities will give more students the opportunity to attend Trinity University as well as support the professors and buildings that will inspire new achievements by new generations.”
“Because I was granted the privilege to attend Trinity, my hope is that more students also afford that privilege. That is why I will also continue to donate and also provide for Trinity University in my will,” she said.