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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Academics & Research

‘Here, We Go’ campaign raises $120 million in first year

"Here, We Go" chart progress after one year.

UH is less than $200 million away from reaching its $1 billion dollar fundraising goal. | Michael Slaten/The Cougar

More than $120 million has been donated to UH in the first year since the University’s “Here, We Go” campaign publicly launched a year ago.

The “Here, We Go” campaign was launched with the goal to raise $1 billion by 2020. The campaign privately began in 2012 and was able to raise $684 million in its first five years from 120,000 donors. 30,000 people have donated since then, leaving just $200 million to raise by 2020, the campaign’s end, according to the campaign’s website.

The campaign is the first major fundraising effort by the University in 25 years.

Donating as ‘service’

Alumna Johanna Thomas, class of 1968, taught public school for 44 years and now donates to her former college, the College of Education.

Thomas said she has had initial conversations to donate to the “Here, We Go” campaign, but she hasn’t set up a meeting with the University, which she said they like to do with their donors.

Thomas said she and others donate to serve the community and to help the continuing education of young people. She said the rising costs of education plays a factor for why she donates, too.

She said when she was in school she worked at UH’s bookstore for two weeks at the beginning of each semester to pay for all of her tuition and fees that semester.

“You know most of us, we didn’t have all of the financial aid,” Thomas said. “We didn’t have all of these huge scholarships, other than if you were an athlete. All of us who did go to college, it was not extravagantly expensive.”

President Renu Khator has been able to bring awareness to alumni and put the University on a bigger stage, Thomas said. According to a slide at President Khator’s fall address, annual fundraising has increased by 176 percent from $50 million in 2007 to $138 million for 2017.

“Needless to say, we are ahead of our goal,” Khator said at the fall address. “But fundamentally, our campaign has been a grassroots campaign. Eighty-five percent of the donors have given $1,000 or less. Each and every gift is a vote of confidence in the University.”

Thomas said creating the cycle of alumni who advocate for the University and come back and donate will be important to grow the University and the city of Houston for years.

Attracting students and faculty

Funds donated to the “Here, We Go” campaign are used to attract students with scholarships or distinguished faculty, though donors choose how their money is going to be used exactly. Two of the five campaign priorities listed online are to “attract and retain top faculty” and “increase the amount of merit and need based scholarships” for students.

Psychology senior Robert Pina said he choose UH over staying closer to home in South Texas because of financial aid and scholarships offered to him.

“It was either go here or come to school in South Texas, and I’d rather come here,” Pina said. “I got more financial aid to come here than other schools.”

According to a report from the American Association of University professors, University of Houston’s average salary for faculty with the title of professor was $149,700 for the 2016-2017 year. The average salary for professors nationwide was $102,402, according to the report.

The past several years have seen a major increase in professors who are members of the national academies. Today, 19 UH professors are members of the national academies, compared to the single professor UH had from 1997 to 2006, according to a slide presented at Khator’s fall address.

Several campus events on Jan. 31 will celebrate the anniversary of the “Here, We Go” campaign launch. The faculty and staff campaign rally will be held in Cullen Performance Hall with President Khator at 2:30 p.m. There will also be a “Here, We Go” live site for students from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Butler Plaza to learn more about how the campaign affects students’ education.

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