The University of Houston has lost one of its most passionate supporters of the arts. Cynthia Woods Mitchell passed away Dec. 27 at the age of 87.
Mitchell's commitment to creativity is remembered by the community and continues to inspire student artists, authors and performers at UH.
Mitchell was born in 1922 in New York City. She arrived in Houston in 1939 and enrolled at UH to study art, literature and psychology. Two years later, she met George Mitchell on a train ride from College Station to Houston. That meeting led to marriage and a lifetime partnership fueled by their mutual dedication to the greater Houston and Galveston communities.
Her enthusiasm for the arts prompted her to make one of the largest individual grants in the University of Houston's history - a $20 million gift to create the UH Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts. The center cultivates collaboration among artists of different disciplines and forms an alliance of UH's Schools of Art, Creative Writing Program, Moores School of Music, and School of Theatre & Dance, and Blaffer Gallery, the art museum at UH. It hosts public events, residencies and curriculum that unite renowned visiting artists with UH students in all artistic disciplines.
"Mrs. Mitchell's and the Mitchell family's commitment to create the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts - a center that celebrates the arts and encourages collaboration - has helped to position UH Arts as one of the university's key priorities," said UH President Renu Khator.
The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts has commissioned world premiere performances and brought renowned artists to campus for performances and lectures. Following a renovation in 2006, the facility housing the Wortham Theatre and School of Theatre & Dance was renamed the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts.
"She was a visionary philanthropist whose dedication to the arts was apparent in the founding of the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center," said Karen Farber, the center's director. "Mrs. Mitchell and her family's generosity has made dozens of significant new art works possible and left a lasting legacy that will continue to infuse the entire university and city of Houston with creativity and innovation."
The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts at UH is located at Entrance 16 off of Cullen Boulevard. To learn more about the center, visit http://www.mitchellcenterforarts.org/.
Mitchell also has provided support for UH's Texas Music Festival. Each year, the event introduces audiences to student musicians through the Cynthia Wood Mitchell Young Artists Competition. The annual contest is conducted at Mitchell's namesake facility, the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands. To learn more about the festival and competition, visit http://www.class.uh.edu/music/texasmusicfestival/.
Through a generous unsolicited gift, Mitchell also launched UH's Distinguished Authors Program. Mitchell also has provided support to the university's Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture.
"Just as she lived a productive and creative life with extraordinary commitment to our community, she has left a legacy that will fuel creativity for future generations in our community and far beyond," Khator said.