An Event To Be Remembered: Alumni & Friends Celebration Dinner
By Sheryl E. Taylor
The Investiture celebration for UHD’s seventh president, Dr. Loren J. Blanchard, culminated with a joyous and exciting Alumni & Friends Celebration Dinner.
“The UHD Community was honored to celebrate the Investiture of President Loren J. Blanchard and our extraordinary alumni,” said Jay Zambrano, Vice President of Advancement & University Relations. “For almost 50 years, our organization has uplifted and empowered alumni across industries, many of whom are leaders in the community. Each Gator Alumni honoree is an inspiration to our community and a testament to UHD’s contribution to our city, state, and nation.”
Close to 500 guests, alumni, and friends joined together at the Four Seasons Houston on May 24th for an evening honoring outstanding alumni and dedicated supporters of UHD. Guests kicked off the evening with a fun filled cocktail hour complete with a silent auction, wine pull, fun photo booth mirror and artwork exhibited by UHD artists. The special event supported the UHD Compass Points Fund, an investment in the success of UHD students guided by the UHD Institutional Compass.
Univision's Grace Olivares, who served as emcee, introduced a special welcome from UHD President Blanchard, a presentation of this year’s alumni award recipients, and a special moment of recognition and appreciation of UHD Alumni Council Chair Laolu Davies-Yemitan (’05, MBA ’22) .
The special event honored outstanding alumni and dedicated supporters of UHD:
- Distinguished Alumna: The Honorable Paula Mendoza (’95, MBA ’17)
- Alumni Service Award: Phillip Ellison (’94)
- Alumni Entrepreneur Award: Marcus Bowers (’11)
- Alumna On The Rise: Maria Del Pilar Montes (MBA ’17)
- Distinguished Friends Of The University: Tommy Harper and Harry Gee
Visit the hyperlinked names above to hear words from all our award recipients.
“Now UHD means so much more to me as an alumni. After graduation so many years ago, UHD has come so far in providing added student services, facilities, and added degree programs," said Phillip Ellison (’94), who received the Alumni Service Award. “It’s really created a legitimate footprint in the Houston community.”
The Honorable Paula Mendoza (’95, MBA ’17), who received the Distinguished Alumna Award, shared, "We do things because we love it. We do things because we want to provide others with the same opportunities that you had, but to be recognized tonight by my University, by my alma mater, it touched my heart.”
After the dinner, all guests were treated to a special Compass Points lapel pin and a commemorative wine tumbler to remember the special evening.
Congratulations to all our honorees.
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.