Douglas Barnes, who earned his UH doctorate in optometry in 1975, pledged to donate $5 million to the UH College of Optometry in order to aid development of the new Health and Biomedical Sciences Building.
As a result of the Texas Research Incentive Program, Barnes’ donation may be matched by the State of Texas.
“I hope our gift helps advance the profession of optometry to a higher level, as well as lift the educational process at the University of Houston,” Barnes said on UHCO’s alumni profile website.
Barnes’ desire to donate to the college stems from his gratitude for being accepted into the program.
“With this investment, I wanted to show our appreciation for the College of Optometry for accepting me and educating me years ago,” he said.
Barnes also said he wanted to give respect to UH president and chancellor, Renu Khator, along with Dean of UHCO Earl Smith.
“The University is very fortunate to have them as leaders,” Barnes said.
Smith expects the donation to help in the progress of otherwise delayed research and study at the school.
“The Barnes gift allows us to equip our new labs and clinical facilities with simply the best instrumentation available,” Smith said.
“The key point is that the gift ensures excellence. Instead of waiting possibly years to outfit aspects of the building, we are moving forward now. The important point to note is that when this building is complete, the College of Optometry will have the finest optometric research, teaching and patient care facilities in the world.”
The first two floors of the HBSB will be named the Molly and Doug Barnes Vision Institute to commemorate their gift and its effect on the UHCO.
The other floors of the HBSB will be used by optometry researchers and scientists from other areas of study such as psychology, computer science, engineering and biology.
While Doug and Molly Barnes’ gift puts the UHCO well on its way to state-of-the-art facilities, there is a constant need for funds in the growing University. Vice President for University Advancement Eloise Dunn Stuhr said that often progress comes from the donations from a few generous individuals.
“We need more philanthropy in the future to help the University achieve the vision for national competitiveness in all areas,” Stuhr said.