The University of Houston Magazine

Cougar Spirit Shines Through

Devoted UH Advocates Join The 1927 Society with a Gift of Life Insurance.

by Kelli Gifford

Jeff and Judy Allen

Finding a bigger advocate of the University of Houston than Jeff Allen (’72) would be difficult. Clad in a Cougar-red jacket, UH tie and a button-down shirt adorned with the university’s logo, Allen’s phone rings in his pocket, playing the Cougar Fight Song and encased in a UH cover. He then tells of his love of restoring cars – four of them red and white – and how his license plate reads “72 COOG.”

“People often ask (my wife) Judy, ‘Does your husband work for UH?’ And she says ‘Yeah!’ Then they’ll ask what they pay me. She says, ‘No you don’t understand, he pays them!’ What a concept!”

The Allens recently decided to join The 1927 Society by making a planned gift of $2 million through a life insurance policy, naming the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship in the C.T. Bauer College of Business as the beneficiary. With their gift, the Allens are joining more than 300 alumni, friends, faculty and staff who have committed to endowing the university’s future.

The president and CEO of IGF, a Houston-based financial services company, Allen once spoke to a student group at the Wolff Center and called it “the most rewarding experience I’ve had in business up to that point in my whole life.”

Allen stays involved with UH for two reasons. For one, the students, many of whom live hand-to-mouth, remind him of himself.

“The second reason is that I’m a native Houstonian, and this is THE University of Houston, and we’ve never received the right position in this city that we deserve. So anything I can do to foster the city of Houston adopting our university as THE university, that’s a big mission.”

A hardworker from a young age, Allen held several jobs during his time at UH, and worked overseas offshore for the last three years of college. “I missed commencement because I was on a plane. I had a job waiting for me in London.”

Allen, a pillar in the business community, often touts UH to those with whom he comes into contact.

“What I tell people is … if you have three graduates applying for a job and all things are equal – GPA, curriculum … I would give the UH grad the slight edge because you don’t have to teach them how to work. They already know how to work, and generally speaking, have been working,” Allen said.

Though the Allens’ most recent gift went to the Wolff Center, they also give generously to athletics.

Allen is a member of the Huddle, a small group of athletics donors whose chief interest is football. Last season he was one of a few chosen to be a sideline coach during the game against Texas Tech.

“In the last 60 seconds, (Coach Sumlin) turned it over to us,” Allen said. “It was the most exciting game ever!”

The Bauer College promoted this event as a way to link business and athletics, and Sumlin wanted his players exposed to real business leaders and CEOs.

“I think it’s very appropriate to see the connection between business and athletics,” Allen said. “Go to Austin or Columbus, Ohio, and see if athletics doesn’t bring in a lot of facilities for academics. Check the budgets and tell me it doesn’t matter.”

To further support the university, Allen recently implemented a new division of IGF called “Cougar Processing.” Through the program, IGF sets aside 20 percent of the profits it earns from processing credit cards for Cougar-owned or managed businesses referred by the UH Alumni Association. Those profits are then donated to the UHAA.

Whether it’s through business or athletics, the Allens are a fixture at UH and intend to be for a long time.

“I want to be a testimony for anyone who wants to do this for his or her school,” Allen said. “Just imagine if 1,000 people did what we did.”