University publicly launches $1 billion campaign
University of Houston administration and honored guests gathered in front of the Ezekiel Cullen Building Wednesday to publicly announce the University’s “Here, We Go” fundraising campaign.
With donations ranging from $15 to $20 million, the University of Houston publicly announced its plan to raise $1 billion by 2020. One such donation, of $20 million, from the John P. McGovern Foundation is to be followed by the renaming of the UH College of the Arts.
The Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts will be the first college at the University named after a former student, as well as the first to be named after a woman, Chancellor and President Renu Khator said. The donation will create a permanent endowment benefiting arts students and faculty, as well as community outreach.
“We are raising these funds to fuel, to build and to transform,” Khator said. “We are going to transform the lives of thousands of students. We are going to transform the University of Houston.”
Prior to the public launch, Khator said more than $684 million had already been raised from nearly 130,000 donors, including over 94,000 new donors to the University. The funds raised in the “Here, We Go” campaign are donor designated.
“It’s not about raising big money,” Khator said, in an address to the gathered donors and campaign chairs. “Honestly, it’s about raising right money.”
The campaign aims to build a fund supporting student scholarships and fellowships, facility renovations, attraction and retention of top faculty, advancement of academic programs and continuing advancement of a nationally ranked athletics program.
Former Shell president and Campaign Co-Chair Marvin Odum said his and his wife’s commitment to the University would come in the form of scholarships aimed at promoting diversity.
“We want to secure both the diversity and strength of the student body,” Odum said.
Overall, Campaign Co-Chair John Nau said the campaign will support the University’s ability to build the Houston economy. The key to a thriving city is a thriving University, Nau said, which can only happen when the community comes together.
“The key to our success as a major urban city in the twenty-first century is a skilled workforce,” Nau said. “As alumni, you have the duty to support this institution of higher learning that helped shape you and helped shape your role in the business community here.”
As part of the announcement, members of the campaign executive committee, campaign co-chairs, alumni and current students gave personal testimonials on the effect the University has had on their lives and careers.
“Because of each and every one of you, this woman will walk across that stage in May 2018,” said Monique Hall, after detailing the financial obstacles she overcame as a student at UH. “We need your help.”
Donated funds will go toward University priorities, though the donors themselves make the final decision, Khator said. However, funds raised from current students will be directed by the University alone.
“That is not something we’ll go and ask the students,” Khator said, regarding how money raised from current students is to be spent. “That is for a general purpose, for the priorities.”
Of the many questions that have been raised regarding the campaign, Khator said she is frequently asked how the $1 billion figure was decided on.
“I believe that it takes the same amount of energy to dream big as it takes to dream small,” Khator said. “So why dream small?”