Sarah and Ernest Butler Family Fund Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Opera
Sarah and Ernest Butler, pillars of arts philanthropy in Austin, first kindled their passion for music through relationships with Butler School of Music faculty. These relationships have resulted in decades of support for the fine arts throughout the University and the city of Austin.
The Butlers’ love of music, combined with a profound belief in the value of public education, has manifested itself in a long history of support for the UT School of Music. In 1983 the Butlers gave their first endowed scholarship: the Dr. and Mrs. Ernest C. Butler Centennial Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Opera.
“The Butlers have been personally committed to supporting UT’s School of Music for many years,” says Glenn Chandler, director of the School of Music. “They are knowledgeable philanthropists who fully understand that not only will their gift secure the school’s future, but will immediately benefit our programs by allowing us to achieve a new level of excellence. We are profoundly grateful for their generosity and are proud to be known as the Butler School of Music.”
Sarah and Ernest have also been steady supporters of the fine arts throughout UT and the city of Austin. Some of the many beneficiaries of their generosity include Ballet Austin, the Austin Symphony Orchestra, Austin Lyric Opera, the Long Center for the Performing Arts, the Austin Museum of Art, and UT’s Memorial Museum and Blanton Museum of Art. The Butlers also contribute their time and energy to the area’s arts organizations. Ernest serves as chair of the Music Committee for the College of Fine Arts Advisory Council and also serves on the Austin Symphony Orchestra Executive Committee. Sarah is currently chair of the Ballet Austin Board of Directors and serves on the University of Texas Development Board, as well as the Blanton Museum Council. Both have been very active in the past on the boards of practically every other arts organization in the community. In 2004 Ernest and Sarah were inducted into the Austin Arts Hall of Fame for their significant contributions to the community over many years as friends of and advocates of the arts.
In focusing their philanthropy now on the UT School of Music, the Butlers are acting upon their conviction that “it’s the backbone of everything else we’ve supported in town.” They have always recognized that UT graduates and faculty members are integral members of the Austin community’s art and music scene. With this recent transformative gift we will most certainly see even more of the Butler School of Music’s influence on the arts, not just here in Texas but throughout the country and abroad.
The profound sincerity behind the Butlers’ unprecedented support is most eloquently summed up by Sarah Butler’s statement made at the press conference at which their gift was publicly announced:
“I enjoy gardening. Every spring I plan for things — I like to grow a vegetable garden. I consider where I plant everything, prepare the earth, and then push the seeds in the ground. But it’s more than that. When I plant a vegetable garden and push those seeds in the ground, it’s an expectation for the future. It’s something that I hope will happen. I hope the seed will germinate, the plant will grow, and eventually produce.”
In 2008 Sarah and Ernest Butler announced their gift of a $55 million endowment to the School of Music. As a result, the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System approved naming the School of Music of The University of Texas at Austin The Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music.