Rice mourns trustee emeritus Robert McNair

Longtime Houston philanthropist and Rice trustee emeritus Robert McNair died Nov. 23. He was 81 years old.

Robert McNair

Robert McNair

McNair was a prominent figure in business, sports and philanthropy. He was the founder, senior chair and chief executive officer of the Houston Texans and founded Cogen Technologies, one of the world’s largest energy cogeneration companies.

McNair was also generous to Rice.

In 2005 he and his wife Janice made a gift to Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business; the school’s building, Robert and Janice McNair Hall, bears their names. The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation funds the McNair Scholars program, which each year awards one student a fully funded, two-year tuition package to Rice Business.

“Together they have been champions of philanthropy for over 50 years, giving generously to many deserving causes,” said Rice Business Dean Peter Rodriguez.

The McNairs also established one of Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy’s first endowments — the Janice and Robert McNair Chair in Public Policy, held by Baker Institute Director Edward Djerejian. They endowed the McNair Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth in 2015, and Robert McNair was honored for his professional achievements and dedication to public service with the Baker Prize for Excellence in Leadership in 2009.

“It is difficult to overstate Bob McNair’s importance to the Baker Institute,” Djerejian said. “He was truly instrumental in shaping the institute into what it is today.”

About Arie Passwaters

Arie Wilson Passwaters is a Web editor in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.