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Professorship in Nursing Honors Longtime PARTNERS Supporter
UT Houston Development Board member Phil Conway surprises wife Suzie by establishing endowment in her name
Any husband who has been married to the same woman for more than 30 years knows that surprising his wife is no easy task. University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Development Board former chairman and current member Phil Conway managed to find a unique way of surprising and showing his devotion to his wife Suzie by creating a lasting legacy in her honor.
Before the crowd gathered at the annual UT Health Science Center at Houston School of Nursing PARTNERS luncheon on March 26, Phil announced his intent to establish the Suzie Conway Endowed Professorship in Nursing.
"It really was a surprise to both of us, in a way. I had decided to create the endowment, but really hadn't planned on making the announcement at the luncheon," Phil recalled. "I think the thing that motivated me was Suzie's comment in her speech at the luncheon when she said, ‘I went to nursing school on the Phil Conway scholarship.' When she said that, I thought it would be a lot of fun to go ahead and announce the professorship."
While Phil mentioned the idea of creating an endowment to his wife the night before the luncheon, as 2008 PARTNERS chairperson, she was busy with preparations for the event and asked him to talk with her about it later. It never occurred to her that "later" might be the following day during the luncheon.
"It was funny. I was sitting next to [luncheon emcee] Jan Carson and when she got up to continue the program she said, ‘Suzie just made some remarks, but there is something that Suzie doesn't know,' and I thought ‘what did I say to her while we were sitting here chatting?' I thought she was about to tell a story on me!" Suzie recalled with a laugh.
"When she announced the endowment, I just couldn't believe it. It really did take me by surprise," Suzie said.
Suzie and Phil Conway married in 1977. Suzie graduated from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, La., with a Bachelor of Science in Biology (Medical Technology) and from Brookhaven College in Dallas in 1995 with an associate degree in nursing.
"It says a lot about Suzie that nursing was important enough to her to go back and get a second college degree to work directly with patients as opposed to being in the laboratory because that's what her commitment is to health care," Phil proudly stated.
Since the couple moved to Houston in 2003, Suzie has been an active civic volunteer and has continued to serve the profession of nursing, including this year's term as chairman of PARTNERS and her work with PARTNERS luncheon chair Kay English to organize the annual event.
Both Phil's and Suzie's parents were lifelong educators, so the commitment to support nursing and teaching gives this endowment a special double meaning.
"My parents said establishing this endowment is a wonderful thing for Phil to do," said Suzie. "They have supported PARTNERS and knew something about the school, so they think it's great."
Although Phil's parents have both passed away, he says he believes they would be proud.
"Education was a lifelong endeavor for both of them and they always thought there was nobility in the profession of teaching," Phil recalled. "Even though I didn't become a teacher, I certainly grew up with a respect for teaching."
Phil added, "I'm a big believer in legacy and I think that the legacy that comes with demonstrating to your family that you support things that you believe in, either with your time, your money or your efforts, is important.
"I really believe that legacies establish where you're from, what you believe in and what your family stands for, and education is certainly part of that for our family," Phil explained.
An endowment is a permanent fund designated for a specific purpose by the donor. Earned income from the endowment account is used for that specified purpose, while the principal is never used, thus, the endowment is held in perpetuity. Endowed faculty positions serve as a crucial recruitment and retention tool.
By Wendy K. Mohon, Institutional Advancement
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