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Thursday, March 30, 2017

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UH System exceeds fundraising goal fourth year in a row


Access to the National Research University Fund is granted to universities that have proven themselves as emerging research institutions. This accomplishment helps further the university toward Tier One status. | Hendrick Rosemond/The Daily Cougar

| File photo/The Cougar

The UH System recently reached a milestone of $125 million in fundraising from private donors, marking the fourth consecutive year the System has surpassed $105 million in private support. 

“Over the past four years, fundraising at the University of Houston has roughly doubled,” UH Vice President for University Advancement Eloise Dunn Stuhr said. “Giving to UH is certainly on an upward trajectory.”

Thanks to this uptick in alumni contributions, UH is now one of the top 50 public universities in annual giving participation from alumni.

The System’s 64,000-plus donors have helped fund a number of new campus facilities.

One of the prime examples of the effects the fundraising efforts have had on UH is the Moores School of Music. An anonymous donor gave $5 million to purchase 170 Steinway pianos, allowing Moores to hold an “all-Steinway” distinction. Over $8 million in donations helped fund the new Winston Band Complex that opened in spring of 2015.

“Students used to have to practice in the indoor field and now, since the Winston Band Complex is right next TDECU Stadium, it’s a lot more convenient,” Spirit of Houston member and computer science freshman Steven Rubio said.

Donations from UH alumnus and State Senator John Whitmire contributed to last year’s start of the Cougar Experience Scholarship.

Chris Helms, who sits on UH’s Board of Visitors — a group consisting of private sector leaders that help advance and improve the University’s image — and his wife, Lynn, also contributed by funding 12 of these scholarships, which are awarded to incoming freshmen who choose to live on campus and stay involved with campus organizations all four years.

There is hope that increases in fundraising will allow more students to earn the Campus Involvement Scholarship and boost student involvement.

“The CES was created to provide students with an on-campus living and learning experience that they would not typically be able to afford,” Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Daniel Maxwell said. “The goal in the next few years would be to increase the number of scholarships and to have 100 students afforded the opportunity to live and learn on campus.”

Some of the other UH institutions that have been enhanced by these donations are the Texas Research Incentive Program and the Hobby School for Public Affairs.

Construction and dedication of the Guy V. Lewis Basketball Center were funded and influenced by alumni donations as well.

“This state-of-the-art training facility will be used by our men’s and women’s basketball teams and will no doubt impact our Athletics Department for years to come,” Stuhr said.

Funding from the state accounts for a quarter of the UH’s budget, so gifts from donors significantly impact the school’s overall funding and the success students achieve as a result.

UH-Main Campus received a significant amount of the funding, but other campuses in the UH System also received donations. University of Houston-Downtown collected $2.52 million, University of Houston-Clear Lake received $1.11 million and the UH-Victoria’s total was $853,282.

“Students should know that there are many Coogs in this community who have their best interests at heart,” Stuhr said.  “Once a Cougar, always a Cougar.”

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