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Welcome back to Austin, Austin Ligon

Tue, June 18, 2013
Welcome back to Austin, Austin Ligon
Plan II Honors alum and benefactor, Austin Ligon, has the best license plate in Texas.


In 2011, University of Texas at Austin alumnus and CarMax founder Austin Ligon and his wife, Samornmitr “Pan” Lamsam, committed $200,000 to the Plan II Honors program over the next four years to support students studying abroad and encourage other alumni and friends of Plan II Honors to support the cause as well.

 “This challenge provides the opportunity to all Plan II alumni who can to give even a small amount and see their gift used in one of the most positive and direct ways possible — studying abroad,” says Michael Stoff, Plan II director. “We’d like to see every Plan II student with a passport.”

Online Giving: Plan II Alumni Funds and other Annual and One-Time Gifts

At the UT Online Giving secure website you may use American Express, Discover, Master Card or Visa to make an electronic one-time gift or divide your annual gift into two, four or twelve monthly payments.

In the first section of the online form, verify that Liberal Arts, College of has been selected.

  1. Verify that Plan II has been selected in the menu that appears under Liberal Arts, College of.
  2. Enter the gift amount.
  3. To direct a gift to the Ligon-Lamsam Study Abroad Fund, please make a note in the box provided that appears above the "Payment Schedule" portion of the on-line form.

“Studying abroad had a transformational impact on my life,” says Ligon, when the Ligon-Lansam fund was first created. “It opened my eyes to the fact that my perspective on the world was just one tiny little portion of the ways in which the world could be viewed.”  Ligon studied abroad in Peru while he was a student at The University of Texas at Austin, where he graduated from Plan II in 1973 and earned his master’s degree in economics in 1978.

Ligon now challenges his fellow Plan II alumni to give. His principal aim is to encourage many contributions of varying amounts, which, together with his new gift, will have a direct and noticeable impact on the lives and academic careers of current Plan II students.

In 2005, the Ligon-Lansam International Study Abroad fund was created by the couple with a $1 million gift, one of the largest single donations ever given to Plan II.  The gift has helped more than 500 Plan II students study abroad. It was intended to be spent outright over five years.

“I have to tell you, it was amazing for me to see just how many times I heard from Plan II students, thanking me for the opportunity to study abroad,” he says of his 2005 gift. “It has been very rewarding and I want to share that feeling with other Plan II alumni.”


(from Wikipedia)

Ligon earned a B.A. in 1973 from the Plan II Honors program at the University of Texas at Austin, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and a member of The Tejas Club. He recently received a lifetime achievement award at The Tejas Club's 85th anniversary in October 2010. He studied at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru in Lima, Peru in 1972/73. He subsequently earned his M.A. in Economics in 1978 from the University of Texas at Austin, and an M.B.A. in 1980 from the Yale School of Management.

Ligon and Rick Sharp, then Circuit City Stores CEO, developed the CarMax idea together in 1991 and launched the first CarMax store in Richmond, Virginia, in 1993.  Austin became president of CarMax in 1995. He led the company through a decade and a half of rapid growth, including its IPO as a tracking stock of Circuit City in 1997. He added the title of CEO upon the company’s spin off from Circuit City in 2002. Ligon came to Circuit City from Marriott Corporation where he had been senior vice president of strategic planning for Marriott Hotels and Resorts. He joined Marriott in 1984 as director of corporate planning, and served as vice president of both marketing and concept general management in the family restaurant division.

Ligon was previously a senior consultant for the Boston Consulting Group in London, England, from 1980 to 1983 and an independent financial consultant in Bangkok, Thailand during 1983-84. He worked as a health economist in Dallas and San Antonio during 1976-78, and was a Teaching Fellow in economics at the University of Texas, Austin from 1973 to 1976. 

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