Education News

UH Launches $1 Billion Capital Campaign

The University of Texas at Austin finished raising more than $3 billion in 2014 while Texas A&M is more than halfway to its goal of $4 billion.

UH plans to invest the proceeds of its $1 billion capital campaign into core areas, like student scholarships, endowed professorships and athletics.
UH plans to invest the proceeds of its $1 billion capital campaign into core areas, like student scholarships, endowed professorships and athletics.

The University of Houston launched its most ambitious fundraising target ever: $1 billion by 2020.

Chancellor and President Renu Khator said in an interview that the campaign builds on recent accomplishments at UH, like becoming a top tier research university and getting a Phi Beta Kappa chapter.

“I felt that we have the infrastructure now, as well as we have the credibility with the community, that their money given to the University of Houston will go to the right cause and that it would indeed make a difference,” she said.

Khator explained that the campaign started quietly in 2012 and has already generated 130,000 donations, including 94,000 first-time donors.

She said that the money will go to key priorities, like student scholarships, endowed professorships and athletics, but donors will get to decide which area or program they want to support.

It’s already collected more than half of the goal: $680 million. It also includes a major $20 million gift from the John P. McGovern Foundation. In honor of that gift, UH will rename one of its colleges the Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts, marking the first college at UH to be named after a woman and also the first one to be named after a former student.

“My background is in art, and I took my first formal art training at the University of Houston in the late 1950s and 1960s,” McGovern said in a statement. “UH is where I first developed an interest in arts. It is a passion that continues to provide me joy to this day … My wish is for this gift to allow the next generation of artists at UH to flourish.”

With the formal launch, UH joins other public colleges that have sought billion dollar campaigns. While private universities have routinely asked for major donations, public schools have increasingly joined the serious fundraising game. The University of Texas at Austin finished raising more than $3 billion in 2014 while Texas A&M is more than halfway to its goal of $4 billion.

Khator said that she’s grateful for all the state’s funding, but added that it’s not enough for UH to reach their goals.

“We just want to make sure we don’t negotiate with our goals because of a lack of resources,” Khator said. “Instead we look for how it is we’re going to build the resources,”

The UH effort, dubbed “Here, We Go: The Campaign for the University of Houston,” marks the first time in 25 years that Houston’s largest university has launched a capital campaign.

“Philanthropy is helping UH reach new milestones, and this campaign is already having a transformational impact on all aspects of the university,” said Eloise Dunn Brice, UH System vice chancellor for university advancement, in a statement.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been changed from an earlier version which incorrectly reported the year the $1 billion goal is expected to be achieved. The goal is to raise the funds by 2020. We regret the error.

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Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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