Dream Big

UH launches next phase of $1 billion fundraising campaign with $20 million donation

$20 million donation boosts next phase of UH $1 billion campaign

Renu Khator, Kathrine McGovern
University of Houston president Renu Khator and philanthropist Kathrine McGovern flash the Cougar sign. Photo courtesy of the University of Houston

Aiming to raise $1 billion, University of Houston officials launched the public phase of its capital campaign Wednesday night, announcing a $20 million gift from the John P. McGovern Foundation and plans to rename the college of arts after Kathrine G. McGovern. She is the widow of John P. McGovern, a noted Houston allergist, investor and philanthropist who died in 2007 at the age of 85.

The Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts will be the first college at the university named after a former student and also the first named after a woman. The gift will create a permanent endowment for the college, where Kathrine McGovern studied art and design at UH in the 1950s and '60s.

Two year ago, the John P. McGovern Foundation donated $75 million to the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and its medical school, which was renamed the John P. and Kathrine G. McGovern Medical School. It is the largest gift in UTHealth's history.

The University of Houston fundraising campaign, led by alums Tilman Fertitta, Beth Madison, John L. Nau III, and Marvin Odum, is the largest in the school's 90-year history. "It's an ambitious campaign, but when the University of Houston dreams, we always dream big," UH president Renu Khator said in a statement.

Thus far, 130,000 donors have given $680 million in a "quiet campaign" that began in 2012. The funds will be used for student scholarships and fellowships, state-of-the-art facilities, attracting and retaining top faculty, advancing academic programs, workforce training and research, and building a "nationally relevant" athletics program. 

The McGovern gift was announced at rally on the UH campus. On Thursday (January 19), activities to highlight the fundraising drive will include a campus kickoff, panel discussions featuring notable alumni, an interactive student philanthropy station, video and photo stations, and a rally and tailgate party prior to the men’s basketball game versus Memphis.