Don and Ruth Buchholz: Transforming Public Education

Jaime Blanton

Little Elm High School Principal Shon Joseph has never met Don (’52) or Ruth Buchholz, but he says their generosity is “transforming public education in Texas.”

Joseph is among more than 100 school administrators whose efforts to become school superintendents have been funded by the Southwest Securities Superintendent Certification Scholarship, established by the Buchholzes.

Research shows that successful school reforms start with change agents like Joseph.

Before moving to Little Elm, Joseph led reforms at John Tyler High School in Tyler, Texas, where he helped the school achieve “Recognized” status by the Texas Education Agency for the first time in school history. For his efforts, Joseph was named Region VII Principal of the Year in 2011. Joseph also was named Assistant Principal of the Year for helping Wylie High School in Collin County increase its average daily attendance and college-readiness ratings.

Joseph says the scholarship he received was “essential.”

“It seems like Don Buchholz understands that this kind of scholarship is easily the best way to support public education because it gives financial assistance to those of us who have dedicated our lives to education,” Joseph says.

The Buchholzes are longtime UNT supporters. They provided UNT with a cornerstone $1 million gift to establish UNT’s Bill J. Priest Center for Community College Education, and they have endowed chairs in community college education and educational administration. They have also supported UNT’s Emerald Eagle Scholars program, which helps high-achieving students who have financial need.

“With the Priest Center, UNT has found a true niche,” says UNT professor and center director Beverly Bower, the Don A. Buchholz chair for community college education. “The center is one of only a handful in the nation studying critical community college issues. We have the flexibility, the leverage and the opportunity to effect real change in higher education.”

Bower calls Don Buchholz a “forward-thinking visionary” who saw the impact a research center could have on the region.

Buchholz, 84, attended UNT thanks to benefits from the first G.I. Bill. He earned his bachelor’s degree from UNT in 1952. As co-founder of Southwest Securities, SWS Group Inc., a securities clearing, securities brokerage and investment banking firm, he helped revolutionize that industry. But beyond his professional career, his involvement in and charitable contributions to education continue to make an impact at UNT and throughout Texas.

Buchholz served as a UNT System regent until May 2013 and has served on the UNT Foundation Board of Directors, the College of Business Advisory Board and the Murphy Entrepreneurship Center Advisory Board.

The Buchholzes are members of UNT’s McConnell and 1890 donor societies. Don Buchholz received UNT’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2001 and the Outstanding Alumni Service Award in 1999.

UNT is not the lone beneficiary of the Buchholzes’ generosity. Don Buchholz has provided similar board service for the Dallas County Community College District, where he has served on the Foundation Board and the DCCCD Board of Trustees, including two terms as president. He also is a former president of the Board of Trustees of the Garland (Texas) Independent School District.

“For someone like Don Buchholz to recognize the importance of our educational growth means everything, because that is a direct investment in how our campuses operate, grow and respond to the needs of our students,” Joseph says.


Above: Don ('52) and Ruth Buchholz.