The biannual Spirit of Excellence Gala was hosted on November 1, 2016, at the Royal Sonesta Houston. Gala att endees were invited to support HBU’s Ten Pillars vision, which incorporates the development of academic initiatives, HBU’s Center for Law and Liberty, and the expansion of online programs. Beth and Greg Looser were the Gala Chairs, and Jennifer and Tadd Tellepsen served as Underwriting Chairs. More than 670 friends of the University were in attendance.
Peggy Noonan, a political columnist, best-selling author, and former presidential speechwriter, delivered the keynote address. Drawing from her experience with past United States Presidents, she reflected on presidential personalities and leadership styles.
The 2016 Spirit of Excellence Award, HBU’s highest tribute, was given to Elizabeth and John W. Gibson, Jr. and Sue and Dr. Robert B. Sloan, Jr.. Elizabeth and John Gibson have been involved in many areas of the University, including the President’s Leadership Council and the Center for Christianity in Business. To magnify the University’s impact for the cause of Christ, the Gibsons established the Elizabeth and John Gibson Endowed Chair in Apologetics.
Sue and Robert Sloan have served as President and First Lady of HBU for more than 10 years. Under their leadership HBU has grown and continues to develop into a nationally recognized, comprehensive university. University trustees Tom Mosley and Clois Smith praised the couple, “From the time we met the Sloans, their open, authentic, passionate love for Jesus and His Word was obvious, contagious, and uncompromising.”
Mary Ann Belin received the President’s Award for her many contributions, including academic scholarships, Belin Chapel, the Mary Ann Belin School of Nursing and Allied Health Simulation Lab, Belin Tower, and Belin Drive. Linda Higginbotham was given the President’s Award for her involvement in multiple University activities, including helping raise Th e Guild scholarships through which 125 graduate students have completed degrees.
As a Founding Father who was instrumental in establishing and supporting the Christian mission of HBU, Dr. Stewart Morris, Sr. received the inaugural Founders Medal. Dr. Morris remains a visionary today, and his continued involvement is visible in every area of the University.
Linda and Archie W. Dunham were recognized for their many contributions, including the largest single donation given to the University, which was honored in the naming of the Archie W. Dunham College of Business. The Dunham’s investment in HBU can be seen on multiple campus landmarks, including the Dunham Bible Museum, Dunham Theater, and Dunham Field in Husky Stadium. Archie Dunham serves as the chairman of the President’s Leadership Council.
President Sloan delivered a surprise announcement for attendees. Pinky Pampell generously donated $5 million as the catalyst for the expansion of HBU’s digital online curriculum. In her honor, expanded HBU online programs will be named the “HBU Pinky Pampell Online Division.”
Dr. Sloan announced the public phase of Seize the Moment: The HBU Campaign to Build a National Christian University. After several years of the silent phase, the University has raised $66 million, which is half of its goal. Campaign funds are for the improvement and expansion of the University, which will benefit students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of HBU as the University gains national recognition. Dr. Sloan also acknowledged significant gifts from Robert and Janice McNair (p. 10); Doris and Terry Looper (p. 9); and Center for Law and Liberty supporters Lisa and Al Hartman and Judge Paul and Nancy Pressler. In addition, he recognized the Cullen Trust for Higher Education, Houston Endowment, and the Welch, Dunn, Moody and Hammill Foundations.
This year the gala included a Missions Market and Silent Auction. The Missions Market was a phenomenal opportunity to serve current students at HBU by sponsoring specific events and needs on campus. The Silent Auction included items such as a signed and framed J.J. Watt jersey, the opportunity to name a campus street, and a round of golf with Dr. Sloan. The Gala raised more than $710,000 for HBU.
Houston Baptist University is thankful for the many men and women who show support for our Christian mission through giving and through prayer; it was our honor to recognize such incredible generosity at the Spirit of Excellence Gala.