What: University of Houston Law Center’s 43rd Annual Law Gala & Auction
Where: The Post Oak Hotel
The scoop: With a theme of “Fly Me to the Moon,” the University of Houston Law Center’s 43rd Annual Law Gala & Auction was an out-of-this-world experience, beginning with a countdown to a spectacular rocket launch video and ending with a Frank Sinatra impersonator. Some $579,000 was raised along the way for scholarships and other programs.
More than 600 alumni, faculty, judges, lawyers, and friends of the Law Center filled the ballroom at the Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston. A “Lunar Bar” welcomed guests and set the stage for the night’s motif of moon and stars with “craters” on the floor to commemorate the 50th anniversary of man’s landing on the moon; an ice sculpture rendering of the proposed new Law Center building added a more earthbound touch to the décor.
After a luxury “wine pull” and dinner, guests with paddles in hand were ready for the live auction with items ranging from a bourbon tasting dinner for 10 with Texas Supreme Court Justice Jeff Brown ’95 to weeklong vacation getaways to Colorado and Montana. The finale, and highlight of the auction, was a golden retriever puppy named Olivia Benson (Law & Order), who won the hearts of the crowd and fetched more than $12,000 for the Law Center.
Guests ended the evening with music and dancing at an after-gala party in a lounge setting that might have featured Sinatra himself in his heyday.
In a celebration of life and legacy before the auction and musical entertainment, Justice Brown, who was recently nominated for a federal judgeship, introduced a video tribute and announced a new scholarship fund in the name of Stephen Zamora, a former Law Center dean and longtime professor who passed away in July 2016.
Who: Prior to the start of the gala, UH Law Alumni Association Award recipients were honored with a reception. Honorees introduced by Baynes, Association president Cynthia Mabry and board members are: Tom M. Kirkendall ’79, Alumnus of the Year; Gordon J. Quan, Honorary Alumnus Award; Greg. R. Vetter, Faculty Distinction Award; James M. Roach ’82, Law Fund Volunteer Award; Thomas F.A. Hetherington ’98, Law Gala & Auction Award; Raj Sharma ’03, Corporate Sector Achievement Award; Alison L. Chen ’03, Private Practice Achievement Award; Sen. Royce West ’79, Public/Non-Profit Sector Achievement Award; Clayton Forswall ’11, Rising Star Award; Mia Breaux Lorick ’14, Rising Star Award; Yvonne Ho ’06, Diversity and Inclusion Award; Ernie Aliseda ’91, Pro Bono/Community Service & Leadership Award; King Family Foundation, Dean’s Award; and Susan L. Bickley ’84, President’s Award.