A Shared Interest of Giving
There’s intelligence everywhere, but not opportunity,” said Tami Mallett.
Though neither she nor her husband Mark attended the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD), the University represents something special to them.
“The way UHD helps students who need to balance work, family and school is impressive,” added Mark Mallett, senior vice president of operations and projects for Freeport LNG.
With no relationship to UHD until just a few years ago, the couple have become significant donors and volunteers.
Mark and Tami grew up three doors down from one another in Victoria, Texas; dated in high school; attended Texas A&M University; married in college; and are the proud parents of two successful adult children and grandparents to four children.
At Texas A&M, Mark earned a degree in chemical engineering, while Tami majored in computer science. Mark also earned a master’s degree in engineering at Notre Dame University. Their connection to UHD began four years ago when Tami, then vice president and Enterprise Group chief information officer at Hewlett Packard, served on the board of directors for the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT).
UHD lecturer of mathematics Sangeeta Gad, director of UHD’s Houston Pre-freshman Enrichment Program (PREP) and an active member of NCWIT’s local A Shared Interest of Giving 27 chapter, offered Tami an opportunity to learn about the summer enrichment program for middle and high school students housed within the College of Sciences & Technology. Now retired, Tami has served as Houston PREP’s guest speaker three times since 2015 and even shared the spotlight with Mark in 2016 for a joint speaking appearance. From this, Tami and Mark have come to recognize the tremendous educational value of UHD. “Getting a college degree is hard … it’s a commitment of multiple years,” Mark said.
“To help make that commitment easier is a positive. From the very beginning of our association with UHD, we could see that our gifts made a difference for students who needed a little extra help.”
They chose to make their first commitment in 2016, when they made a gift to create the Elizabeth Steen Endowed Scholarship in honor and celebration of the 50th anniversary of teaching for Tami’s mother, a longtime educator who continues to teach mathematics at Lone Star College. The scholarship helps students majoring in mathematics—and particularly those who have transferred from Lone Star or another community college.
Tami attributes much of the success she has enjoyed in life to the example set by her mother, a single parent who raised her family while earning two degrees.
“I saw firsthand how education changed the trajectory of my mother’s life and completely changed the course of my life. So many UHD students are the first in their families to go to college. And, the impact is not only on the student, but also on future generations. My greatest affinity to UHD is its mission to serve first-generation college students,” said Tami.
Recently, the Malletts made a significant commitment toward the new College of Sciences & Technology Building. In recognition of their six-figure gift, the entrance of the building will be named the Mark & Tami Mallett Grand Entrance. New Beginnings For Mark and Tami, this is just the beginning.
“We’ve got some work to do,” added Mark. “It began with honoring her mother’s accomplishments, but we plan to continue supporting UHD.”
One of the Malletts’ passions is to create educational pathways for young adults who have aged out of the foster care system. The Malletts involvement in this initiative is through their church’s Open Table program, but they hope to engage UHD in this effort in the future
“We have the opportunity to help some really smart, bright individuals, who weren’t on the college path, find their way,” said Tami. “UHD is big enough to provide opportunities, but small enough for students to receive the care they need. The quality of students, faculty and staff is incredible ... to experience such authenticity for students’ success is unique and a draw for us.”
Though not alumni, the Malletts are now permanently part of the UHD family
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.