The Humanities and Social Sciences Building (commonly known as the HSS) has been newly tagged: The McKinney Humanities Building. In response to Mary McKinney’s recent death and gift of $22 million to aid dedicated students in tuition payment, UTSA renamed the building in her honor.
To some students, the HSS holds the general significance of a core-class prison stack synonymous with mundane, required coursework, while to others it passes relatively unnoticed as a rudimentary freshman-year dwelling. “I hate the HSS”, student Eric Chapa said.
“There was never any real connection with the building for me, it seems more like a continuing attempt from the university to attach many faux-prestigious name drops on its buildings, but the gift in and of itself requires a response, that’s how gifts work in America so it’s to be expected.
Others question the decision in regards to the effectiveness of the name itself. “Well it’s a good way to remember her contribution, but it doesn’t really roll off the tongue as well”, said student Josh Seiwert. “The ‘HSS’ was a common building with a common name, simple and stress free.”
The original acronym did feel like it was a firm icon for the elementary building it stood for. It was simple and evocative of a simplicity last visited before graduating into the jet stream of a complex world. McKinney believed in simple equal opportunity though. She was concerned with that which was foundational and essential.
“Mary was an avid supporter of education and thought it was important for everyone,” UTSA Assistant Vice President for Communication, David Gabler said. “She had a strong belief that students with a desire to complete their education should receive financial aid.”
He also recalled a personal anecdote of Mary’s regarding her initial inspiration for her bequest said, “She was standing in line, waiting to pay her tuition when she overheard other students complaining that they were having a difficult time paying their own. She felt an inability to pay shouldn’t hinder the education process.”
The gift is for hardworking students with 30 hours and at least a 2.75 GPA who would otherwise not have the opportunity to further their education. The Felix and Elizabeth McKinney Memorial Scholarship fund at UTSA, already responsible for distributing renewable scholarships will receive the donation.
Included in her $22 million estate gift are three South Texas ranches as well as a portfolio of stocks and municipal bonds, and personal property.
The loss of a convenient acronym is reasonably substituted with a bountiful reserve that involved students can rely on in a difficult situation. The new title is a more significant reminder of the school’s student community bond and Mary McKinney’s philanthropy, and eventually the building will acquire a fitting nickname.
The donation will continue to strengthen UTSA’s financial power and serve as an icon of the university’s impact and security. As it continues to amass financial support and establish a multi-layered validity, UTSA keeps a close connection with students and the community.