The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)’s third biennial Constellation Gala on Nov. 9, 2018 raised an all-time high of $10.1 million to support student scholarships, faculty endowments, research and clinical care.
“Our gala theme, the constellation, represents the character of this great institution. Just as a constellation and the night skies are made of many bright and shining stars, so do the unique people who are UTHealth shine together as one of the nation’s premier universities,” Diana Hawkins, chair of the UTHealth Development Board, told that affair’s 550 guests at the Marriott Marquis Houston. “Tonight, we honor you—our UT family, friends and supporter. You’re our stars in our constellation that help the university’s top doctors, scientists and scholars revolutionize health care.”
This year’s gala honored Jane and Robert Cizik, who donated an unprecedented $25 million to UTHealth’s School of Nursing in November 2017. The Ciziks’ transformational gift supports the university’s endeavor to address the shortage of nurses in health care by training the next generation of skilled and compassionate nurses.
“They’re known throughout the city for hard work, achievement, inspirational leadership, love of family and service to the community. It is my great honor and privilege to recognize two of UTHealth’s dearest friends and passionate supporters: Jane and Robert Cizik,” UTHealth president and Alkek-Williams Distinguished Chair Giuseppe N. Colasurdo, M.D., said in his speech. “Your gift forever ties your personal values of dedication, service, generosity and community to our school and university. Our students, faculty and staff are inspired by your legacy to work harder, to support each other and to live up to the high standards that you have exemplified throughout your life. This is truly a remarkable family.”
Colasurdo thanked the Ciziks for their “immeasurable” impact on the university and nursing school.
“We’re proud to be able to be part of this nursing school and the young people who are going there,” Robert Cizik said. “We wish them all a wonderful future.”
The event also recognized actor William Devane for his voice-over work with the award-winning “Many Faces of UTHealth” branding campaign, which highlights the university’s educators, researchers and clinicians. Colasurdo presented Devane—who is best known for his role as Greg Sumner on the classic soap opera “Knots Landing” and as James Heller on the Fox serial action drama “24”—with the UTHealth Medal of Distinction for his contributions.
“Before we launched our campaign, most people in our community did not fully understand the scope of UTHealth and the work of our exceptional faculty members,” Colasurdo said. “We knew that we would need a voice to bring the campaign to life, and we were so fortunate that Bill was willing to be that voice.
Devane’s work in the campaign “helped us tell the UTHealth story of healing, innovation and discovery,” Colasurdo added. Since its launch in fall 2015, the campaign has won more than 20 national marketing and advertising awards.
“Today, I think you will all agree that everyone knows our name and, more importantly, they know our people, our mission and our work,” Colasurdo said.
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