The University of Houston System (UHS) raised nearly $125 million in fiscal year 2015, marking the fourth consecutive year the System has surpassed $105 million in private support.
Year-end philanthropic commitments to the System’s flagship University of Houston totaled $120 million, elevating the University’s alumni annual giving participation to the level of the top 50 of all public universities. Alumni donor participation was at 12.8 percent.
Philanthropy from businesses, foundations, alumni and friends supports a wide range of initiatives, including student scholarships, faculty recruitment and retention, investment in research and classroom technology, and athletics.
“Gifts to the University of Houston this past year came from more than 64,000 donors, who want to make a difference in the lives of our students and the city of Houston by investing in its public university,” said Eloise D. Stuhr, vice chancellor/vice president for University Advancement. “Our donors are making UH a driver in Texas and beyond. I thank them and celebrate them!”
Stuhr cited several gifts and student success initiatives that advanced fundraising efforts:
• Steinway Initiative: In a challenge from a lead donor who wishes to remain anonymous, UH raised more than $2 million in gifts and pledges to make Moores School of Music the only all-Steinway school in Houston and one of the largest all-Steinway institutions in the world. The effort has created an ultra-high quality learning and listening experience for music students and university concert audiences.
• Cougar Experience Scholarship: Lead donors Chris and Lynn Helms have funded 12 scholarships for the first two years of this initiative, which awards $4,000 to incoming freshmen who want to live on campus and become active in campus life. UH this fall welcomed its first cohort of 24 Cougar Experience scholarship recipients to campus.
• Student Success Planning Grant from the Houston Endowment: The grant supports the creation of “Guided Pathways to Success,” a regional plan that will impact higher education opportunities throughout the Houston region. UH System campuses and community colleges are convening throughout 2015-16 to develop a solution to degree completion support for the region.
• Multidisciplinary Research and Engineering Building (MREB): Gifts of note for the $51 million facility, which will open in 2016, include support from the Mehta family to establish the Mehta Family Engineering Research Center on the ground floor. The four Mehta siblings all attended the University of Houston.
UH System Regent Durga Agrawal (M.S.I.E. ’69, Ph.D. ’74) and his wife, Sushila, made a commitment of $2.5 million to name the second floor of the MREB. Regent Agrawal earned his Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from UH.
• Texas Research Incentive Program (TRIP): As an “emerging research university” designated by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, UH is eligible for certain matching funds from TRIP. For 2014-15, UH received more than $9 million in gifts that will generate almost $8 million in TRIP matching funds.
• Hobby School for Public Affairs: As a previous Chancellor of the University of Houston System and the longest serving Lieutenant Governor in Texas history, Bill Hobby’s dedication to the university and the city of Houston is unwavering. His recent lead gift toward the creation of the Hobby School of Public Affairs at UH demonstrates his determination that Texas sustain its commitment to excellence in higher education and his dedication to the betterment of the region. In support of his passion for public policy, Hobby has rallied prominent figures throughout Texas to join in his commitment to the Hobby School of Public Affairs. In addition to Hobby, supporters include Luci Baines Johnson, the Herb & Joan Kelleher Charitable Foundation and Dr. Melissa Kean.
These gifts helped to create a strong foundation for the new school, which will develop and disseminate policy research to elevate civic discourse and produce more effective outcomes for cities in Texas and across the country.
“This unprecedented level of fundraising success clearly demonstrates that our alumni continue to encourage us, our supporters continue to give us hope, and our community continues to believe in us,” said UH System Chancellor and UH President Renu Khator. “Because of such faith and financial commitment, we have been able to launch new programs, accept new students and construct new buildings, maintaining UH’s steady progress toward overall excellence.”
State funding, allocated through the legislative process, accounts for about 25 percent of the University of Houston’s budget. Charitable gifts are an important source of funding necessary to create an educational environment that ensures student success at UH and other UH System universities, all of which are nonprofits. Year-end fundraising totals at the four component universities are:
• University of Houston: $119.97 million.
• University of Houston-Downtown: $2.52 million.
• University of Houston-Clear Lake: $1.11 million.
• University of Houston-Victoria: $853,282.