Debbie and Andy Johnson have learned that “of the first class” is a descriptor that can be attributed to any and all of the UT institutions.
A System “Of the First Class”
Embracing Many Shades of Orange
When it comes to burnt orange, this couple is true blue. Deborah (Debbie) Hoose Johnson and Andrew (Andy) P. Johnson, III both come from families with deep ties to The University of Texas at Austin and, as a couple, they have enthusiastically kept that connection strong. This is evident by their participation and membership in the Texas Exes Association as Lifetime Members, Texas Parents’ Association, Longhorn Foundation, Texas Exes Scholarship readers, 1883 Council, and Littlefield Society.
Debbie (BA, ’77), who played in the Longhorn Band when she was a student, is now a member of the Longhorn Alumni Band and never misses an opportunity to march into the Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial (DKR) Stadium (35 times and counting). Andy spent his first year and a half at UT Austin and, while he graduated from another institution that offered the international affairs degree he sought, he considers himself a Longhorn by association. Between the two families, they boast a total of 36 UT degrees, including 26 bachelors’ degrees, 3 masters’ degrees, 2 JDs, 1 DDS, 3 PhDs’, and 1 PhD in progress (Aerospace Engineering). They also have 3 former UT Austin faculty members (1 Engineering, 1 Nursing and 1 Biology). Family members attending UT participated in Silver Spurs (2), Tejas (3), Student Government, Blazers, University Unions Board of Directors, Longhorn Band (3), and a myriad of sororities and fraternities. What’s more, Debbie and Andy’s youngest child, William "Cody”, is a proud UT Austin grad who, at 25, remains disappointed that he wasn’t born in the DKR Stadium. “I went into early labor during the UT-University of Houston game in 1988. We lost that one, and I decided the stadium was NOT the place to have a baby. Cody, however, believes it would have been a fine place to be born.”
The couple’s love for all things UT now extends beyond Austin to the 15 other academic and health care institutions that comprise The University of Texas System. In 2004, the pair strengthened their connection to these places of higher learning and healing by establishing the Deborah and Andrew Johnson, III Chancellor’s Excellence Endowment. They have been making contributions to that fund every year since.
The Johnsons have learned from personal experience that “of the first class” is a descriptor that can be attributed to any and all of the UT institutions. When Debbie’s father first learned he had Acute Myeloid Leukemia, other hospitals in the Houston area, where the Johnsons live, opted not to treat him. “So I took him to the UT MD Anderson Cancer Center where they worked with him and his illness.” Her father lived for three years after his diagnosis, giving him the time he needed to help his family prepare for and cope with his ultimate death. “I am just so grateful for how the doctors, nurses, and staff at MD Anderson took care of my father,” Debbie states. “It was absolutely world class treatment and it made a horrible situation as bearable as it could be.”
The high-quality health care and health care education would be reason enough to support the UT System, Andy believes. “The evidence is the fact that a significant percentage of the doctors in Texas are UT System trained. But, it doesn’t stop there. Innovation is encouraged in all fields of study, as we see with the recent UTSA graduate who figured out how to harness the wasted energy in a moving vehicle and store it in a battery. The UT System has graduated rocket scientists, teachers, nurses, musicians, and athletes—extraordinary people who will transform Texas and the nation.”
Andy, a Houston attorney, and Debbie are now members of the Chancellor’s Council Executive Committee and are excited about the additional contributions they can make to the UT System and to furthering the Chancellor’s initiatives. “We didn’t join the Executive Committee for the line on our resumes,” Andy states. “When we believe in something, we want to support it in every way, using our time, expertise and money.”
“We want to be asked, ‘Will you do this?’” Debbie adds. “We would like to participate in any way we can.”
Both Andrew and Deborah are proud of their heritage and each can point to accomplished relatives, both in the past and present, who have helped shape Texas and its institutions of higher learning. The common characteristic these people share, and one that the Johnsons hope they’ve passed on to their children, including their newest Longhorn, grandchild Abigail, is the resolve to leave the part of Texas they touch better than when they found it.