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The Chain Reaction of Giving

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Nolen Family
The Nolen Family

March 5, 2013 - Division of University Advancement - The University of Houston is more highly regarded than ever for its Tier One education and its dedication to innovative research. But, the accolades are not always about the obvious. Sometimes it’s the fundamental character of our institution that makes an impression on people—its sense of community, its students and faculty. It is their talent, potential and dynamic drive that create the excitement and promise for our future.

While not alumni of the University of Houston, David and Laura Nolen have been so inspired by UH’s community, growth and mission that they stepped forward to take action when one of the university’s most generous matching opportunities in history went public. Since then, they have become much more than a part of the growing family of loyal UH benefactors.

David and Laura Nolen, both successful attorneys, moved to Houston five years ago. Having settled in a home within walking distance of the UH campus, they observed, first hand, the university’s evolution into the Tier One institution it is today.

“It’s like night and day. The energy has been so amped up. From the buildings going up, to the level of activity coming from the campus, to the simple feel of it all. It has evolved into such an exciting campus life,” says David Nolen.

David and Laura, each fervent advocates of higher education, believed their college days were behind them. But both, along with daughter Ruthie, were once again swept up into the university lifestyle. Family activities quickly became a series of on-campus visits, including swimming, lunch and dinner outings, attending events, taking walks on the grounds; even Ruthie’s seventh birthday party found its perfect accommodation at the UH Campus Recreation and Wellness Center.  And, their love for college football was beyond satiated.

The house next to theirs was home to a number of UH students.  Most notably, it was home to Case Keenum ‘10, former Houston Cougars star quarterback and currently signed to the NFL’s Houston Texans’ practice team. “It was great having Case there. He’s a really great guy. Ruthie crashed a few of the parties he threw in the backyard,” David recalls with a laugh.

The Nolens consider the University of Houston an esteemed neighbor, one they spend a lot of time with. In an effort to give back to the community that so graciously embraced their family, David and Laura became lifetime patrons.

In addition to annual gifts benefitting programs and projects of particular interest to them, the Nolens recently established the Andrew Ladis UH Tier One Scholarship Endowment, in memory of a dear friend. Ladis was an Art History professor at the University of Georgia, who shared the Nolen family’s passion for higher education and the belief that a college degree plays an integral role in creating a more promising future for those eager to learn.

The Nolen’s generous act seemed to grow wings when Laura’s employer, Marathon Oil, agreed to match their donation. And through the remarkable generosity of an anonymous source who donated $7 million to the University of Houston to be used specifically for Tier One Scholarship matching, the Nolen’s gift was met a second time. Suddenly support for higher education became a gift that will benefit UH students in perpetuity. “It was wonderful to see our gift grow like that. What an exciting opportunity to see first-hand how giving really does multiply,” says Laura.

David and Laura Nolen are a prime example of how one act of giving can initiate a chain reaction of generosity, affording many deserving students an education through much needed funding and fulfilling many promises of a brighter future. With the support of Houston’s community, like good neighbors David and Laura Nolen, the University of Houston is privileged to continue the journey toward Tier One accomplishments across the educational spectrum.

This story was originally published in the Office of Annual Giving 2011-2012 Impact Report