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Dinner Raises $400,000 for Scholarships
Sellout crowd honors President and Mrs. Willerson at 35th anniversary celebration
A sellout crowd of 500 gave a standing ovation to James T. Willerson, M.D., and Nancy Beamer Willerson at the 35th anniversary dinner for The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, April 24 at the River Oaks Country Club.
Friends and supporters donated some $400,000 in honor of Dr. Willerson, who is president of the UT Health Science Center, and his wife, Nancy, for their contributions to the university and the Houston community.
David Grimes, chair of the UT Health Science Center’s Development Board, announced that proceeds from the event will be used to establish six new President James T. and Nancy Beamer Willerson Endowed Scholarships – one for each of the schools in the UT Health Science Center. A special allocation also will go to the UT Medical School’s existing Doris Simon Endowed Scholarship, awarded by the Faculty Wives and Women Faculty organization, to which Nancy Willerson has contributed many hours of her time.
In tribute to Dr. Willerson, who is a world-renowned cardiologist and president-elect of the Texas Heart Institute, the dinner was sold out even before the first invitations were mailed.
Great Service to the Community
“You’ve given great service to this community,” former Mayor Bob Lanier said. “You’ve made this city a better place. You’ve made The University of Texas Health Science Center a more effective institution by leading it. For your visionary work, for your healing touch, and your inclination for doing the right things, for that, this city loves you.”
Lanier and his wife, Elyse Lanier, and Courtney and Christopher Sarofim co-chaired the event.
Christopher Sarofim said, “Houston and the medical community are much richer for Dr. and Mrs. Willerson being here and for all that they do. Our goal for the evening was to raise awareness of the UT Health Science Center, as well as to raise funds. Based on the response that we’ve seen, it’s been a tremendous success.”
Dr. Willerson paid tribute to the Laniers and Sarofims. “I want you all to know that the UT Health Science Center tonight has established two new scholarships in its Medical School, each for $10,000 in the names of the Laniers and the Sarofims,” Dr. Willerson said.
He expressed appreciation to dinner underwriters H-E-B and Memorial Hermann Healthcare System and to the people of Houston, which he called “the most generous city I’ve ever been in.”
“Your support for the UT Health Science Center now has it poised for greatness,” Dr. Willerson said. “What you’ve done to help is tremendous, and not just for the UT Health Science Center, but every Texas Medical Center institution.
“Your kindness to Nancy and me will never be forgotten. Every one of you is part of our family and always will be.”
A highlight of the evening was the introduction of special surprise guest Vince Young, former Longhorns quarterback and 2006 NFL Rookie of the Year with the Tennessee Titans. Young presented an autographed football to Dr. Willerson, an avid UT athletics fan. Before graduating Phi Beta Kappa from UT Austin, Dr. Willerson lettered three times as a varsity swimmer.
The dinner’s theme, “An Evening of Texas Traditions,” was reflected not only in the burnt orange attire of the honorees and some of the guests, but also in the welcoming contingent from The University of Texas Longhorn Marching Band and the Texas Cowboys, the UT Austin service organization that Dr. Willerson joined in 1959. He is a Life Member.
Representing the UT System at the dinner were: Regents Robert Estrada, Scott Caven and Judith Craven, M.D.; Former Chairman of the Board of Regents Charles Miller; and Vice Chancellor for External Relations Randa Safady, Ph.D.
Co-emcees were UT alumni Tom Roupe and Rand Holstead, who also is a member of the UT Health Science Center’s Leaders of Tomorrow.
The event was organized by the Office of Institutional Advancement.
View list of 35th Anniversary Donors.
View the 35th Anniversary Photo Gallery.
By Ina Fried, Institutional Advancement
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