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Donation Brings Huston-Tillotson University Closer to Building Mental Health Clinic

KUT's Joy Diaz

It's the largest gift Huston-Tillotson has ever received.

On Thursday, the historic black university announced that Ada Anderson, a 92-year-old graduate, had donated $3 million to pay for the initial construction phase of the school's mental health clinic. It will be called the Sandra Joy Anderson Community Health and Wellness Center in honor of the donor's daughter.

As a child, Anderson wanted to be a mathematician, but in the segregated south of her time, she says African-American women had to be strategic about their choices; instead, she got a degree in Home Economics. "That was the only opportunity, the only opportunity that I had to get a college degree," Anderson says.

Dressed in a white jacket and wearing gold flats, Anderson shares some of her life experiences. She was a teacher. But then married and she and her husband owned insurance and real estate businesses. They were politically active and met LBJ in person, plus John and Bobby Kennedy.

The Andersons had two children. Both have passed away and neither of them had children of their own. So, when Anderson was deciding how to do the most with her money, she opted for her Alma Mater. In fact, she says she'll soon surprise HT's president with another gift from her daughter. "I'm also donating her entire estate. Sandra had a very, very, very lovely home."

The Sandra Joy Anderson Community Health and Wellness Center is planned as $35 million complex.

Texas Standard reporter Joy Diaz has amassed a lengthy and highly recognized body of work in public media reporting. Prior to joining Texas Standard, Joy was a reporter with Austin NPR station KUT on and off since 2005. There, she covered city news and politics, education, healthcare and immigration.