UHD College of Business Receives $10 Million Gift from Marilyn Davies
By Mike Emery
Marilyn Davies understands the value of higher education in today's workforce. She also recognizes the role that the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) plays in helping both students and professionals achieve success in the marketplace.
Her passion for excellence in both business and education served as motivation for a gift of $10 million to UHD's College of Business. This endowment will support the college's growing programs, exceptional faculty and student resources. In recognition of the gift, the college will be renamed the Marilyn Davies College of Business.
The gift creates the first named college at University of Houston-Downtown and is the largest gift in the institution's history. In addition, it is the first college of business in the state to be named for a woman and only the fourth nationally to hold this distinction.
Davies, a native Houstonian, is the CEO of Bailey Banks Seismic, a proprietary seismic data company. Her familiarity with UHD stems from her summer school classes at South Texas Junior College - the institution that preceded the University at its One Main St. campus. Later, she grew to admire the institution when her son Taylor Davies attended UHD, ultimately earning his bachelor's degree in political science. Her brother Kelly Davies also attended the University, earning a bachelor's degree in computer science.
"When my son enrolled at UHD, I knew that its students valued the education they were receiving," Davies said. "I saw Taylor attending class with many students who managed jobs, families and academic studies as they worked toward their degrees. These were clearly ambitious, hardworking students who aspired to improve themselves."
Her gift complements a year of success for the growing College of Business, which has the largest Master of Business Administration (MBA) program in the city - ranked No. 1 on the Houston Business Journal's round-up of "Largest Houston-Area MBA Programs" This growth was on view during the college's Fall 2016 Graduate Commencement Ceremony, which graduated more than 250 master's students. The MBA program is bolstered by the guidance of more than 200 Corporate Fellows who combine their professional insights with the academic expertise of the college's faculty. This instructional pairing provides students the theoretical and practical perspectives necessary to succeed in the classroom and the workplace.
"Davies' generosity and vision will impact countless students," said UHD Interim President Michael A. Olivas. "She understands that UHD and its College of Business are indeed jewels in this city … and the country for that matter. Her transformative gift to our institution will enhance service to our students, as well as to the business landscape of Houston. She is challenging us to raise our goals, and the Davies College of Business will strengthen our role in the region."
In addition to its MBA program, the college offers a Master of Security Management and Bachelor of Business Administration degrees in accounting, finance, general business, insurance and risk management, international business, management information systems, marketing, management and supply chain management. Graduate enrollment is 1,067, and undergraduate enrollment is 2,462.
"We are grateful for Davies' gift to our college," said UHD College of Business Dean Michael Fields. "We're appreciative that she has a strong belief in what we're doing and wants to accelerate our progress. We've sought to drive our curriculum to meet the needs of local business. Her support will assist with that and other initiatives that will help our students reach their academic and professional goals."
Davies holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics from Texas Tech University. Her initial career interests were focused on computers, but she found her way into the booming oil and gas industry. She survived that industry's decline in the early 1980s and purchased the assets of Bailey Banks Seismic from a former employer. The company is the proprietor of Professional Geophysics Inc. database that includes 25,000 miles of data related to exploration areas and basins across the U.S.
"Higher education opens doors," she said. "It exposes students to new ways of thinking and learning. I value a college education, and I pushed my own kids to go beyond their bachelor's degrees and earn master's degrees. My hope is that this gift encourages others to invest in the University of Houston-Downtown, and that it will encourage UHD students to aspire to greater and greater heights."