AUSTIN, Texas – The Steve Hicks School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin is renaming its newest research and scholarly center as the Moritz Center for Societal Impact, thanks to a significant gift from Leslie B. and John David Moritz. The funding will help support the center’s groundbreaking work across critical social work disciplines that will affect the everyday lives of people in Texas and beyond.

Founded in June, the Moritz Center for Societal Impact aligns interdisciplinary efforts in research and scholarship, curriculum and instruction, and community partnerships to solve critical social problems and improve people’s lives. Its focus areas include ethics, aging, disability, children and families, and health and technology.

“We created the Center for Societal Impact in the Steve Hicks School to harness our vast research talent from across the University to solve critical societal challenges,” said President Jay Hartzell. “The generosity of the Moritz family will help make this interdisciplinary collaboration possible and create a positive impact on a wide range of issues including housing affordability, mental health, and the placement of foster children. Leslie and John David Moritz recognize this unique opportunity for the University to elevate lives, drive impact and serve as an example, not only in Austin, but across Texas and beyond. Dean Allan Cole will put these resources to great use, and we are tremendously grateful for the Moritz’s support.”

The Moritz family’s generous gift provides financial support for UT students and faculty members. This support will occur through a fellowship program, a summer-intensive research program focused on faculty collaborations with students and community stakeholders, and other initiatives aimed at helping solve critical social problems.  

“The Moritz Center for Societal Impact was created to change lives, and with this generous gift, we are just getting started,” said Allan Cole, dean of Steve Hicks School of Social Work and founding director of the center. “Support like this enables us to lead efforts in effecting positive change in the world and creates opportunities for The University of Texas at Austin to have an even greater impact beyond the Forty Acres. I am deeply grateful for the continued investment John David and Leslie Moritz and their family are making in the Steve Hicks School and the social work profession. The resources they are providing will help make UT Austin the most impactful public research university in the world.”

“This transformational gift is essential to our Center’s purpose and will allow us, even more, to collaborate with community partners, produce important research, and maximize student opportunities,” said Jeanette Davidson, inaugural director of the Moritz Center. “We appreciate the wonderful support given from the Moritz Family, knowing it will assist us significantly in our efforts to make a positive impact in the world.”

The naming gift for the center is the most recent gift from the Moritz Family, who previously established a fund to support our students, the Moritz Family Student Support Fund, and who also gave $1.2 million to support collaborations between the Dell Medical School and the Steve Hicks School of Social Work, including interprofessional education, faculty hires and programmatic initiatives.

“No profession impacts human flourishing more than social work,” John David Moritz said. “Our family chooses to support the Steve Hicks School because social workers change the world for the better. It is a joy to be a part of such important work being led by the Steve Hicks School’s Center for Societal Impact, and I am eager to watch this work be amplified so that UT Austin can make an even greater impact in the world.”

This investment from the Moritz family supports UT’s What Starts Here fundraising campaign — the largest campaign in Texas higher education history. The University publicly launched the campaign in 2022, with a goal to raise $6 billion.