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Sunday, September 24, 2023

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UH commemorates famous alumnus


The School of Communication will be named after UH alumnus and former head of the Motion Picture Association of America rating system, Jack J. Valenti, UH officials announced Friday.

Director of the School of Communication Beth Olson made the announcement at the school’s annual scholarship banquet.

"I would like to emphasize how these gifts and the prestigious name of Mr. Valenti will position the School of Communication in a whole new way and will be a great benefit to faculty, and most importantly students by adding even more value to their degrees," Olson said.

The UH System Board of Regents will vote on the naming today, according to its agenda.

Valenti’s widow, Mary Margaret Valenti, said her husband would be proud to know the school was named after him.

"To be remembered in this way is quite extraordinary. I think he would be thrilled," Mary Margaret Valenti said.

She said her husband’s ties with Houston and UH were always strong.

"I’ve heard countless stories about the years when he went to night school here…. He loved this place. It meant so much to him in his formative years," Mary Margaret Valenti said.

Jack Valenti’s daughter, Alexandra Valenti, said her father would have loved to have the opportunity to sit with students at the banquet and just talk.

"It didn’t matter how old you were. He was always curious, always asked everyone questions (and) cared what their opinion was," she said.

Jack Valenti worked for The Daily Cougar when he attended the University in the ’40s, which was known as The Cougar at the time.

Jack Valenti continued his involvement after graduating as the head of the UH alumni organization. He was appointed to the board in 1963 when UH became a state university.

Board Chairman Welcome Wilson Sr. said he hoped the name Valenti would create recognition for the school.

"It’s been my experience that when a school such as Communication is named after someone well-known and so forth that they begin to blossom… and I pledge to you that the School of Communication is going to blossom. And I pledge to you that it’s going to get the kind of attention that it deserves and has waited for many, many years," Wilson said.

Wilson also said he thought the main objectives for UH should be attaining ‘Tier-1’ status through alumni contributions. Involvement is about 6 percent, but should be doubled or tripled, he said.

"I’m saying to you students when you graduate from the School of Communication, sign up for the alumni organization…. What can you do to contribute to ‘Tier-1’ status? Join the alumni organization and start giving back to the University," Wilson said.


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