Student enrichment initiatives to benefit from a $1 million gift from Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation

Student Experience

Jayme Blaschke | September 23, 2022

exterior shot of alkek library with students walking on steps

The Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation has made a gift of $1 million to Texas State University in support of experiential learning opportunities in the Albert B. Alkek Library.  

The gift will enable the creation of the Alkek Laboratory for Immersive Arts & Sciences (ALIAS) and will fund student programming in the library to promote entrepreneurship through the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CIE).

The gifts add to the foundation’s legacy as Texas State Heroes. Heroes are those individuals or organizations who have donated one million dollars or more to the university. It is the most prestigious honor bestowed on Texas State supporters. The Albert B. Alkek Library on the San Marcos Campus was named following a generous gift from the foundation.

male student working with 3d modeled object

Through ALIAS, students will research, curate, archive and disseminate immersive stories in fields like public history, communications, business, computer science and medicine. Students will have access to workshops where they will learn to create pitches employing immersive storytelling, which will give them a new competitive edge that could lead to start-ups and fundable business models.

This project also allows researchers to study the impact of immersive storytelling as compared to traditional presentation methods in affecting decisions, outcomes, emotions and impact on presented topics. Researchers will also conduct longitudinal studies on those outcomes. 

ALIAS will help capture and celebrate the stories of Texas State students, local communities and the world, giving voice to those stories and preserving them for future generations.

By collecting, producing and showcasing stories using multiple media—including physical objects, digital assets, text, pictures, video and immersive environments—ALIAS will play host to a first-of-its-kind library data repository, provide the tools and in-house expertise necessary to turn the unique research data into deeply immersive stories, and create physical and online spaces for sharing these stories with the broader public. ALIAS will unite all the departments of the Albert B. Alkek Library and the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship with librarians, faculty, students and professional staff operating as the primary stakeholders in researching, facilitating, archiving and presenting stories that range from social awareness to economic empowerment.

female student working on touch-screen computer

ALIAS will also help realize the interdisciplinary research aspirations of the university by spearheading a broad range of scholarly endeavors. In the process of researching, curating, archiving and disseminating immersive stories, fields like public history, communications, business, computer science and medicine will collaborate under ALIAS to incorporate project-based research and learning goals.

The CIE’s mission is to foster a culture of innovative and entrepreneurial thinking and to assist the launch of new ventures, mentoring students to bring their ideas from concept to value creation. The foundation’s gift will enable CIE to offer programming accessible to all Texas State students through the technology rich Alkek One space in the library. This will create an independent, interdisciplinary hub for innovation existing outside of any single college or department. Some of the core CIE initiatives include:

Ignite and Deep Dive workshops enable students to work collaboratively with peers from across the university and receive guidance from experienced faculty, entrepreneurs and mentors to further define and refine a business idea. The workshops offer an opportunity for entrepreneurial discovery for students who have a business idea and are interested in a deeper exploration of the startup process or are simply curious about the fascinating world of entrepreneurship.

Corporate Hackathon events feature companies bringing challenges they are facing in their industries along with actual datasets with which to problem-solve. Students develop a data-driven project, pitching the project in a presentation, executing on the best ideas with a team and presenting findings to a panel of industry experts. Teams can participate in the discovery/pitch segment, the build/demo segment or both while competing for prizes.

Boost focuses on undergraduates who want to launch or grow a side gig but need a boost of extra mentoring, resources and prototyping, Boost helps students go from early ideation through final product fit, launch and market segmentation.

SCALEUP (Sustainable Cultivation and Advancement of Local Enterprises for Underserved Populations) is researching minority-owned business growth and developing practical tools to overcome growth hindrance. In Alkek One, Texas State students and researchers will collect data, develop and test practical tools as well as delivering workshops that educate and empower minority business owners on how best to expand and grow their businesses. 

About the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation

Established upon the death of Albert B. Alkek in 1995, the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation provides support for charitable, religious, scientific (primarily medical), cultural and educational organizations and programs serving the people of the state of Texas. The majority of the foundation’s grants reflect Mr. Alkek’s preferences for research and education-related projects that will pay lasting dividends in terms of new discoveries and improved quality of life. Additional grants reflect the Alkek family’s strong community involvement, both in Houston and throughout the state.

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922