On November 30, 2022, the UTSA College of Education and Human Development’s (COEHD) Urban School Leaders Collaborative (USLC) received a $100,000 gift from UTSA Alumni Association members and long-time university supporters Tami ‘94 and Steve Griffin ’92, M.S. ’94. The money will help fund the Betty Lou Griffin and Bertha Rae Damon Endowed Graduate Research Fellowship in Education that the couple established for the USLC in 2016. Named in honor of Steve and Tami Griffin’s mothers, respectively, the fellowship is awarded to all USLC students during their final semester.

 A partnership between UTSA and school districts in South Bexar County, the USLC is a cohort-based principal preparation program dedicated to supporting and retaining emerging leaders in the school districts. The fellowship helps to defray the costs associated with obtaining a master’s degree and state certification exams needed to practice as equity-driven principals in their school districts. Through the program, UTSA trains transformational leaders who are committed to working effectively in diverse, ambiguous and challenging school environments. 

The fellowship also supports the travel costs to send USLC members to the annual University Council Educational Administration. This year, 13 students from the USLC presented their research at the conference.

In addition to being alumni, the Griffins have two daughters who are UTSA alumni. Their third and youngest daughter is a currently attending UTSA. The couple is passionate about the high quality education UTSA provides and its bold commitment to student success. 

The Griffins also have strong personal connections to teaching. Tami graduated from UTSA with a degree in interdisciplinary studies and works as the counselor at Christian Evers Elementary School in the Northside ISD. Steve is a former professor of the UTSA Margie and Bill Klesse College of Engineering and Integrated Design and a current doctoral candidate in the Klesse College’s mechanical engineering department.

“There are a lot of great teachers who would love to get a master's degree but just can't afford it,” said Steve Griffin. “With this scholarship, we hope it will enable them to focus more on their job as opposed to other distractions like, ‘How am I going to pay for college?’”

Steve Griffin’s mother and father, Betty Lou and Frank, were educators in San Antonio. In 1975, Betty Lou Griffin received her master’s degree in early childhood and elementary education from UTSA, becoming one of the university’s earliest graduates.

Tami Griffin’s mother, Bertha Rae Damon, grew up in Ohio and worked in a factory during World War II. She met and married Vernon “Pop” Victor Damon who later retired from the U.S. Air Force as a tech sergeant. Bertha was a supportive military spouse, accompanying her husband to various posts across the globe, raising four children and eventually settling in San Antonio.

The Griffins announced their latest gift on Wednesday, November 30, at Perales Elementary School in Edgewood ISD.

With their additional gift, the Griffins hope to continue honoring their mothers’ commitments to education while helping today's educators further their academic careers. 

"Both of our mothers believed strongly in giving back, so I think they would be very happy about this scholarship," said Tami Griffin.

-Jordan Allen, Development Writer