Gratias Dono 2010 honors volunteers and contributors
UTHealth honored volunteers and contributors for “Gifts that Change Life” at the second annual Gratias Dono celebration of philanthropy on March 24, 2010.
“Exploranda,” a tribute to the Age of Discovery, was the theme of this year’s event, which recognizes both service and gifts to UTHealth.
University of Texas System Vice Chancellor for External Relations Randa Safady, Ph.D., emceed the program, which featured a video presentation. In a series of clips that opened with a statement by President Larry R. Kaiser, M.D., about UTHealth and its mission, the audience heard the stories of individuals who had made life-changing gifts to the institution and those whose lives had been transformed by those gifts.
Kaiser honored major contributors to the university with personal recognition and a presentation. He noted the generous support the university has received from the Texas Legislature and recognized State Representatives Debbie Riddle and Beverly Woolley, who were present at the dinner.
During the evening, UTHealth honored Development Board service, too. Board member and former chair Peggy Barnett was made a Life Member, becoming the eleventh to receive the distinction. Three other Life Members received longhorn steer sculptures from Development Board Chair Eugene H. Vaughan: Beth Robertson, Buddy Hightower Sr. and Buddy Hightower Jr.
The event’s setting evoked Renaissance Florence, where civic philanthropy helped change the course of history. Dr. Safady explained that this year’s theme, which means “the things which must be discovered,” honored not only those whose insights and cutting-edge work change our lives but those who believe in that work and support it. “For hundreds of years, philanthropists have enabled brilliant minds to achieve greatness,” Safady observed.
Vaughan agreed, quoting astronaut Frank Borman, “Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit.” He added that the spirit of exploration “is alive and well at this university.” He also commended board members, acknowledging current and former members, Leaders of Tomorrow, and Advisory Councils for their service.
Vaughan also recognized Development Board member Linda McReynolds, who is chairing UTHealth’s A Celebration of Transformation and Hope event on May 11.
The late John P. McGovern, M.D. and his wife Katherine were recognized with a special award for their family’s contributions to education, research and health care. Mrs. McGovern received a gift from UTHealth.
A special announcement about a significant gift to the School of Health Information Sciences concluded the evening; more information will be coming soon.
Cynthia Johnson, Institutional Advancement