Rice has so much to celebrate and be proud of — from the football team being Conference USA champs to bioengineering students developing a robotic arm for a 17-year-old boy with brittle bone disease. And now Rice can add one more: raising a record-breaking amount for the United Way of Greater Houston.
Faculty and staff contributed $229,920 to the 2013 Rice Campaign for the United Way — a 14 percent increase over last year’s record total and almost $55,000 more than the campaign’s original goal.
Rice presented the hefty check to Anne Neeson, vice president for donor relations at United Way Houston, at a celebration on campus Feb. 13.
“The campaign this year has been extraordinary; it once more shows that we can rise above our own high ambitions,” Rice President David Leebron said as he thanked donors, division heads, divisional vice chairs and donors who gave $500 or more. “The campaign says something about ourselves. It’s important because it makes a difference to the lives of people all across our city, but it’s also important because it says what kind of community we are.”
University Representative Y. Ping Sun was chair of lead donors, those who gave $1,000 or more, and she added her thanks to the Rice community for its generosity.
“This year we have 92 lead donors who contributed more than $161,000, which accounts for about 70 percent of the campaign total,” she said. Rice also had 55 donors who contributed $500, which earned them membership in “Club 21,” which takes its name from the fact that this level of giving works out to about $21 per paycheck.
Sun also thanked Board of Trustees Chair Bobby Tudor ’82, who served as campaign chair, and his wife, Phoebe, for their $25,000 matching gift, which brought in another $45,000.
Campuswide, the university had a participation rate of 24 percent with 765 donors. The Wiess School of Natural Sciences had the highest total contributions — $27,105 — as well as the most lead donors, 14. For the second year, Public Affairs and Investments tied for the highest participation rate — 100 percent — and the Administration division had the highest number of donors, 187.
Tudor, a long-time supporter of the United Way, praised Rice for its generosity.
“In my experience, the United Way is really the most effective way to get the greatest amount of help in the shortest period of time to the most needy people in our community,” Tudor said. He added that Rice survives and thrives because the university is able to find people who believe in its mission and who via their philanthropy help execute that mission, and it is absolutely appropriate that the Rice community does the same for other institutions in Greater Houston that positively impact the local community in similar ways.
Neeson recalled the United Way Houston’s recent awareness campaign, which featured posters reading “A better Houston needs __________.” “What I would say is, ‘A better Houston needs Rice University. You’re so critical to what we do. You set a standard of how to care about not just the people inside the gates but also outside the gates.”
Honorary chairs of the campaign were Leebron, Tudor and Provost George McLendon. Wade Adams, associate dean of engineering, was faculty chair; Barbara White Bryson, associate vice president for facilities engineering and planning, was staff chair. Greg Marshall ’86, director of university relations in the Office of Public Affairs, was the campaign manager.