Historical Analysis of the Hogg Foundation of Mental Health

by Jessi Duran and Illeana Moore

The love the Hogg family maintained for the state of Texas cannot be understated. From patriarch James Stephen Hogg, who served as governor of Texas from 1890 to 1895, to his children Will, Mike, and Ima. Their love for Texas and transitively its people was evident in the family’s philanthropic activities. The most notable of these philanthropic actions was the bequest made to the University of Texas that ultimately laid the groundwork for the organization now known as the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. 

From its very beginnings, the Hogg Foundation has been known for its pioneering contributions to the state’s understanding of and response to mental health and the needs associated with it. The following essay will demonstrate and discuss such contributions, specifically throughout the especially significant first three decades, and how they relate to the Foundation’s mission and the underpinning perspectives of philanthropy existing in the United States at the time. These contributions begin with the historical base of the Foundation, carry on through the events associated with the Foundation’s early years, and culminate in relevance with the UT Tower shooting and its aftermath.

Organizational Beginnings

On September 12, 1930, Will Hogg died from a sudden heart attack while vacationing with his sister Ima (The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, 1968, p. 8). He had previously selected Ima and one of his brothers Mike to be the executors of his estate, and gave them the authority to choose where such funds would be directed, given that they also contribute from their estates as well. Despite legal challenges regarding the written specifications of the will, a $2.5 million endowment bequest in the name of Will Hogg was given to the Board of Regents of the University of Texas on July 15, 1939 (Bush, 2016, p. 20).

The Hogg family’s philanthropic interests revolved heavily around two things: serving the people of Texas and mental health. Interest in mental health stemmed from their father’s experiences touring the state as governor, and also largely from the personal mental health struggles of Miss Ima, as she became lovingly known (Bush, 2016, p. 12-17). For these reasons, the endowment fund was meant to establish a program dedicated to mental health for all the people of Texas. To accomplish this, Ima Hogg and University of Texas President Homer Price Rainey gathered an advisory committee together to develop the mission of the foundation and ultimately name a director. Five recommendations for the Foundation’s mission were created as the result of the advisory committee’s conference. Such recommendations included: (a) survey mental health conditions in Texas, (b) establish mental health clinics across the state, (c) provide mental health instruction in Texas teacher-training courses, (d) provide facilities for mental health research at the University of Texas School of Medicine, and (e) promote mental health lectures at the University of Texas and across the state. (Bush, 2016, p. 25)

Furthermore, documents indicate that the family later established three additional stipulations to include as part of the Foundation’s vision. First, while the Foundation was to be “an educational and facilitating organization” committed to furthering the practice of both current and new scientific methods and modalities, it was not meant to serve as a research institute in and of itself (The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, 1968, p. 11). Second, due to its connection to the university setting, the staff was bound to the use of “scholarly standards and methods in all phases of work” (The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, 1968, p. 11). Finally, the Foundation was established not as an independent agency, but to help additional groups, communities, and organizations develop, investigate, and evaluate new programs for prevention and treatment. This could be accomplished through “consultation, mental health education, and the temporary financing of pilot programs” through use of grants and financial assistance (The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, 1968, p. 11).

The establishment of the Hogg Foundation represented a time of changes to philanthropy, both in Texas and across the United States. As discussed in Hall (2006), following the New Deal policies enacted to address the effects of the Great Depression, private organizations were necessary to provide community-level services and policy expertise to varying levels of government (p. 50). The Hogg Foundation was no exception, as private foundations were barely being introduced in Texas at the time, resulting in a series of firsts the organization would have to navigate. At the time, the Foundation was the first professionally managed foundation in the state, the first private foundation with a commitment to mental health, and the first private foundation to fall under the jurisdiction of a public university (Bush, 2016, p. 21). Under these circumstances, the Hogg Foundation set off to begin what would become major contributions to the field of mental health.

Significance of the Early Years

In addition to Ima Hogg, one of the most prominent figures in the history of the Hogg Foundation is Dr. Robert Lee Sutherland, who served as the first director of the foundation. Sutherland was recommended for the job by the University President Homer Price Rainey. Originally, the candidates for the director position were found in the realm of mental health professionals, psychiatrists, and physiologists. Sutherland was a Sociologist and proved that he was the right person for the job through his actions as director. Under his direction, the Foundation made a number of critical contributions to the mental health field in its early years, beginning with the traveling lecture opportunities.

Despite the seemingly large-scale endowment given, funds in the earliest years still were limited. However, given the ultimate goal of providing education and training regarding mental health to as many people in Texas as possible, and taking into account a lectureship provision in Will Hogg’s will, the Foundation elected to conduct an outreach program later known as the “circuit riders of Texas.” Robert Sutherland and additional academics and mental health professionals essentially toured the state, providing lectures, educational opportunities, and trainings specifically to areas and populations of the state that typically were unable to receive such opportunities due to distance or marginalized status (Bush, 2016, p. 29-31; The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, 1970, p. 15-16). Within just the first three years of this endeavor, approximately 400,000 people across 152 communities across the state were engaged (Bush, 2016, p. 30).

Set against the backdrop of World War II, the Foundation also undertook a number of efforts specifically related to the ongoing war. The Foundation became involved in a request to aid in improving the screening process for military draftees to prevent discharges related to “mental and emotional breakdowns” (Bush, 2016, p. 34). The Foundation also educated military chaplains about ways to provide counseling to soldiers to reduce the number of psychiatric discharges (Bush, 2016, p. 35). Post-war efforts were also made to further assessment and treatment of readjustment problems through both research and aid.

The 1940s and 1950s were decades also dedicated to reform of the mental health institutions across the state. Following the war, such institutions were in states of disarray due to the disruptions of the Great Depression and World War II. Sutherland, and the Foundation by proxy, played key roles in influencing legislation and provision of funding for research that would result in improved living and working conditions and care within the institutions for people living with mental illness (Bush, 2016, p. 56-84). Such roles ultimately resulted in the Texas Mental Health Code being enacted in May 1957 (Bush, 2016, p. 83). This catapulted the Foundation to prominence, with the reputation of being the “most important organization in the field of mental health in Texas and its surrounding regions” (Bush, 2016, p. 84).

University of Texas Tower Shooting

The UT Tower shooting directly affected the Hogg Foundation and influenced the direction of their organization. On August 1, 1966, a UT student and ex-marine by the name of Charles Whitman went to the observation deck of the Tower with an arsenal of weapons. After killing the receptionist for the deck, he began shooting indiscriminately at the people below. It wasn’t until 96 minutes later, that he was stopped by police officers who corned him at the observation deck. In those 96 minutes, he injured 32 and killed 14 people. It wasn’t known until later that he killed both his mother and wife in their homes making a total of 16 deceased victims. This event was traumatic for the University as a whole.

At the time, the office of the Hogg Foundation was located on the 24th floor of the Tower, only a few floors down from the observation deck where the shooting took place. An essay written by Bert Kruger Smith tells us that the receptionist’s husband, Jim Zinn, stopped by the office for a visit when they heard a loud sound and someone crying for help (p. 3). Zinn ran up the stairs to the 27th floor where he was met with a sight of smoke, panic, blood, and dead bodies. After helping, Zinn called the police and rejoined his wife where they and others began to barricade the doors to the office. They were helpless to help the fallen victims that they could see through the office windows (Smith, p. 5). Once the police had given the all-clear signal, they came out of the office and someone so happened to hit the elevator button which opened to reveal the view of Whitman’s body wrapped in a bloody sheet being held by policemen (Smith, p. 9). For the 50th anniversary of the shooting, the podcast Into the Fold produced by the Hogg Foundation did an episode with one of the former secretaries who was present that day. She recounts her recollections of the horrible events and states that the image of Whitman’s body was something that affected her the most. Some of the victims of the shooting where close to the Hogg Foundation according to Dave Latz who wrote and excerpt titled “Nightmare at Noon.” He was present during the event and had written down what occurred in the office during the duration of the attack. Lantz stated that the receptionist, Edna, at the deck that was killed was well-known by the Hogg Foundation staff (Latz, p. 4). Another victim by the name Paul was known to Dr. Sutherland as he taught Sutherland’s grandson how to swim (Latz, p. 4). It was found that in March of 1966 Whitman went to the Health Center of the University to talk to a psychiatrist about his fantasy of going to the top of the Tower and killing people (Boston, p. 5). The psychiatrist set up a follow up appointment with Whitman, but he never showed up and a few months later carried out his fantasy in real life.

With the attack hitting so close to home, both literally and figuratively, the Hogg Foundation decided that it had to take action. There was already a request from the Board of Regents to the Committee of Student Counseling, in which Dr. Sutherland was the chairman, to make a report with recommendations how to improve student counseling on campus (The Hogg Foundation, 1970, pg 40). However, the shooting created a sense of urgency and created a higher need of student counseling so much so that the Committee of Student Counseling had a report done by October 1 1966 (The Hogg Foundation, 1970, pg 40). In the fiscal years 1967 to 1969, the Hogg Foundation granted $4,100 to the Department of Psychiatry at Baylor Medical School for the research study of the Charles Whitman case in order to gain further insight into the incident. Another research study form the Mercy Hospital and Medical Center was granted $885.25. This research study was inspired by the Whitman case to increase early detection and treatment of mental illness in universities. During the expansion and reform of the Counseling Center at the University, the Hogg Foundation sent Dr. Jane Vincent, an instructor in Educational Psychology, to receive further training in Utah at the National Training Laboratories. As the need for more and better counseling on campus arose, the need for more trained staff arose. There was also a need to expand counseling services to the University residence halls. The Hogg Foundation gave many supportive grants to the Counseling Center as the expansion of services was underway. Dr. Robert Sutherland also became the main liaison for the Hogg Foundation with the Counseling Center. Within the Hogg Foundation, there was a focus shifted from direct involvement in public policy to involvement in community-based mental health programs (Bush, 2016, p. 125). This is partly due to the UT Tower Shooting which made the Hogg Foundation put a focus on their own community, the University of Texas.


The Hogg Foundation has been through many historic events and has responded to the various social needs that have arisen since its inception 79 years ago. While the Hogg Foundation has seen much change, it has adapted with the conditions set before it all while keeping the core values set by Ima Hogg. The Hogg family legacy lives on within the actions of the Hogg Foundation of Mental Health. It’s service to Texas is indisputable and their contributions to the good of Texans are undeniable. Through a historical lens, one is able to see analyze the growth and change of the Hogg Foundation. In it’s first years it focused on mental health education, post WWII veteran mental health, and then Texan mental health institution reformation and mental health policies. There was a slow change in the Hogg Foundation from mental health policy focus to a community-based programs which escalated after the UT Tower shooting.


  • Boston, J. A. (N/A). Involuntary Spectatorship in Austin. The Hogg Foundation of Mental Health Archives
  • Bush, W.S. (2016). Circuit riders for mental health: The Hogg Foundation in twentieth-century Texas. College Station: Texas A&M University Press.
  • Hall, P.D. (2006). A historical overview of philanthropy, voluntary associations, and nonprofit organizations in the United States, 1600-2000. In W.W. Powell & R. Steinberg (Eds.), The non-profit sector: A research handbook- Second edition (32-65). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
  • Latz, Dave. (September 7, 1966). Nightmare at Noon. Hogg Foundation of Mental Health Archives.
  • Smith, B. K. (N/A)). Trio at a Tragedy. The Hogg Foundation of Mental Health Archives
  • The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. (1968). Program and policies: The Hogg Foundation for mental health, The University of Texas , 1968. Austin, TX: Robert L. Sutherland.
  • The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. (1970). The Hogg Foundation for mental health: The first three decades, 1940-1970. Austin, TX: The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health.
  • The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. (N/A). Who We Are: Vision, Mission, and Values.
  • The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. (N/A). Nightmare at Noon – The UT Tower Shooting.
  • The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. (N/A). Human Violence – Whitman Case. Hogg Foundation Project Information Sheet Fiscal Years: 1967-68 & 1968-69
  • The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. (N/A). Human Violence – Whitman Case. Hogg Foundation Project Information Sheet Fiscal Years: 1968-69 & 1969-70
  • The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. (N/A). Tuition for National Training Laboratories. Hogg Foundation Project Information Sheet Fiscal Years: 1966-67
  • The Hogg Foundation of Mental Health. (N/A).Resident Counselor Consultation. Hogg Foundation Project Information Sheet Fiscal Years: 1967-68
  • The Hogg Foundation of Mental Health. NTL Leadership Training For June M. Gallessich. Hogg Foundation Project Information Sheet Fiscal Years: 1967-68
  • Into the Fold. (October 2016). Episode 33: Nightmare at Noon – The UT Tower Shooting. The Hogg Foundation of Mental Health.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.