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Foundation donates $800,000 to UHV to create scholarships, fund high-tech classroom

Thanks to two grants totaling $800,000 from the M.G. and Lillie A. Johnson Foundation, the University of Houston-Victoria will be able to offer a new set of scholarships and build out a visualization theater in the university’s newest academic building.

The foundation recently presented the university with a $350,000 grant for new scholarships and $450,000 to fund the creation of a state-of-the-art visualization theater in the new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Building.

“The Johnson Foundation has a long history of supporting UHV, which is reflective of the educational component of our mission,” said Robert Halepeska, executive vice president of the foundation. “We are pleased to see the growth of the university, and we are happy to be part of this growth, both by providing funds for scholarships and for the completion of the visualization theater in the new STEM Building.”

Jesse Pisors

The scholarships funds are intended to benefit students from a 14-county region around Victoria who are pursuing degrees in health-related fields. Although the university still is working out the details of the new scholarship fund, many of the funds likely will be awarded as merit-based scholarships, said Jesse Pisors, UHV vice president for advancement and external relations.

“UHV is extremely grateful for the ongoing support from the Johnson Foundation,” Pisors said. “Their support for local students and emphasis on health-related fields has a major impact on UHV as an institution and the community.”

In addition to providing the new scholarships, the foundation is funding equipment for the new visualization theater that will be the centerpiece of UHV’s new STEM Building. The visualization theater will consist of an immersive, 210-degree screen lab. The screen in the lab will display images that appear to surround the user, providing an interactive experience. The lab will be used by students as well as the community.

Bob Glenn

The foundation previously donated $1.5 million to finance the build-out and state-of-the-art equipment for health-related labs that will be housed in the new STEM and former Town Plaza Mall buildings. These will include organic chemistry, biology, anatomy and kinesiology labs.

Before the foundation’s donation for the theater, UHV faced the prospect of having to open the building without completing that space. Fortunately, the foundation knows the importance of STEM-related fields and chose to help the university open its new building with as strong a start as possible, Pisors said.

“UHV is fortunate to have the support of a foundation that knows the value of higher education in the community,” UHV President Bob Glenn said. “Thanks to these generous donations, UHV will be able to recruit more students by offering financial aid options and learning spaces that will help our students gain an edge when preparing for their future careers.”

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973, offers courses leading to 70 bachelor’s, master’s and specialist degree programs and concentrations in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.