Texas could have a severe nursing shortage in the next 15 years as baby boomers retire and demand for health services grows, but Houston philanthropists Jane and Robert Cizik are aiming to do something about it. During a press conference at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston on National Philanthropy Day, officials announced that the couple has pledged $25 million to the UTHealth School of Nursing, which will be renamed in their honor.
Orange and white confetti rained down as UTHealth president Dr. Giuseppe N. Colasurdo made the announcement before a cheering crowd.
"Wise and discerning in their philanthropy, they make a tremendous difference, while remaining humble, happy, and visionary," Colasurdo said, in praising the couple. "Thank you for entrusting us with your legacy for generations to come....As I promise you, we will make you proud."
The gift, which is the largest the School of Nursing has received, will establish scholarships for students; endow chairs to recruit, reward and retain outstanding nursing faculty members; fund innovative research; and create a distinguished lecture series.
"Jane and Bob know that nurses are the beating heart of our health care system. As the saying goes, 'If you save one life you're a hero, and if you save 100 lives, you're a nurse' and that's certainly true," said UT regent Janiece Longoria.
Longoria praised the Ciziks as "Houston's power couple" who have made generous donations in a wide variety of areas. Robert Cizik chaired the $10 million philanthropic campaign to build a new $57 million home for the nursing school that opened in 2004 and the couple previously made a substantial gift to the Hermann Eye Fund, which was renamed the Robert Cizik Eye Clinic, where UTHealth ophthalmologists practice.
They have also given generously to Harvard University, the University of Connecticut, the Wortham Theater Center, The Women’s Home, Citizens for Animal Protection, University of Houston, and the National Audubon Society.
Robert Cizik, who is known as Bob to his friends, served as chairman, CEO, and president at Cooper Industries from 1973-1996.
"We were drawn to this cause because the school is a top nursing school in the nation and we passionately believe in the power of education," said Jane Cizik. "Here at UTHealth patients come first."
The Jane and Robert Cizik School of Nursing becomes the second in the UTHealth system to be named for a generous couple. In 2015, the medical school was renamed in honor of philanthropists John P. and Kathrine G. McGovern after receiving a $75 million gift from the John P. McGovern Foundation.