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Friday, September 29, 2023


Valenti school reveals identity

The University’s ‘best kept secret’ was revealed at a ceremony Tuesday by the UH Systems Board of Regents chairman.

‘The best kept secret was the’ communication school. The building never had a name on it,’ said Beth Olson, director of the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication. ‘The communication building didn’t communicate what it was there for.’

Board of Regents Chairman Welcome Wilson unveiled the sign officially identifying the communication school as the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication and explained the criteria and merits of the school’s namesake.

The three reasons to name buildings after people are if they give donations, they contribute to the advancement of the University or they, as UH alumni, reach national and international recognition, said Wilson.

‘Jack Valenti met all three areas,’ Wilson said. ‘He was the president of the student body, president of the Alumni Association and he was on the first Board of Regents when UH became a public school.’

‘ ‘(Valenti) donated and raised a lot of money for the school, he was also the communication aid to President Johnson. After Washington, Valenti became president of the Motion Picture Association of America, and came up with rating systems to prevent censorship of motion pictures in the ’60s.’

The communication school was named after Valenti in April 2008, but the building did not display the name on the building until Tuesday.

Tuesday’s celebration was called the ‘Best Kept Secret’ party to commemorate setting the school’s identity in stone.

‘ ‘I think we had a good turnout given the weather and the fact that most of our students were not on campus,’ communication instructional professor and event coordinator Julie Fix said. ‘We don’t do very many events for our students, but maybe that will change.’

Dozens of students and faculty came out in the drizzling weather for the free music, food and door prizes. Several sponsors attended the unveiling and gave away free food and merchandise to students and faculty who came to see Valenti’s name on their building.

‘ ‘The name already started to generate some excitement for our program,’ Olson said. ‘We have an increase in fundraising for capital improvements to the building and for student scholarships.’

Olson introduced Wilson, who knew Valenti as a close friend and former business partner.

‘Valenti knew every important person in the world,’ Wilson said. ‘He was the ultimate communicator.’

Wilson said when Valenti died, he and others who knew Valenti wanted to honor his memory by naming the communication school after him.

‘The purpose of the name is to bring alumni together and support the school,’ Wilson said. ‘People don’t realize that Texas is filled with (UH) communication graduates. They are everywhere.”

The name has raised more than $3 million for the school. Communication alumnus Lance Funston donated $1.5 million to renovate the school in honor of Valenti.

‘Funston wanted his money to be used to redo the building,’ Wilson said. ‘Then the building itself will be named the Lance Funston Building.’

An artist rendition of what the building will look like is on display in the communication advisers’ office.

‘ ‘It will have a large screen that will display daily news and pictures from the Blaffer Gallery,’ Wilson said. ‘It is going to be big.’

The project will start in January 2010 and be completed in time for the beginning of the fall semester, Olson said.

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