For decades, Melvyn L. Wolff and Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale have helped Houstonians step into their comfort zones. As two of the most successful leaders in the furniture industry, they’ve helped create cozy living and office spaces across the city. Both also have contributed their time and energies to the community and the University of Houston.
On May 15, Wolff and McIngvale will earn Honorary Doctorates during the Spring University Commencement at TDECU Stadium.
UH students recognize Wolff from his involvement in the University’s C.T. Bauer College of Business. Houstonians, however, probably know Wolff as the guiding force behind Star Furniture. The outlet (co-founded by his father Boris Wolff) has served the greater Houston area for a century. Wolff initially focused his academic interests at the University of Texas at Austin’s law school. He returned to Houston, however, to help steer Star Furniture toward success. Alongside sister, Shirley Wolff Toomim, he grew the business into one of Houston’s most prominent furniture outlets. He also found time to earn a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from UH. The family sold Star in 1997 to Berkshire Hathaway Company, but Wolff and his sister continue to serve as chair and vice chair, respectively.
In 1991, Wolff and wife Cyvia founded the Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship at the Bauer College. The center’s efforts in grooming future CEOs and business owners have earned it top rankings from the Princeton Review. In its last assessment of programs, the college guide ranked the Wolff Center No. 2 in the nation. Wolff also is an advisory director for Bauer College and a board member for its foundation.
Affectionately known as Mattress Mack, McIngvale is familiar as the owner and spokesman for Houston’s Gallery Furniture. With memorable television commercials and a consistent promise to “save you money,” McIngvale is a city institution. He started Gallery Furniture with just $5,000 and a pickup truck. Now, McIngvale oversees two superstores, and a third is on the way.
McIngvale is a firm believer in “capitalism with a cause” and supports a number of organizations including the Houston Symphony, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the Salvation Army, KickStart, KIPP Academy, Baylor College of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and the Texas Heart Institute. He also supported the development of the nation’s first mobile stroke unit and contributed to the Bush-Clinton Fund following Hurricanes Katrina and Ike and the 2004 tsunami. McIngvale has been recognized with the Daily Point of Light Award for his charitable efforts and Spirit of Social Work Award from UH’s Graduate College of Social Work.
His generosity also extends to UH. He has visited with students in the College of Technology’s Organizational Leadership and Supervision course. He also donated furniture to the University’s Cougar Grounds coffee house.
Other honorees during the University Commencement include President’s Medallion recipients Rick Lowe and the Welch Foundation.
The University Commencement ceremony kicks off at 5 p.m. with a performance from the Moores School of Music. At 6 p.m., the student processional begins. The ceremony will start at 7 p.m. The featured speaker is Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey. For more details on the event, visit the University Commencement website. For more facts regarding 2015 graduates or information on media credentials, view this release.
The University of Houston is a Carnegie-designated Tier One public research university recognized by The Princeton Review as one of the nation's best colleges for undergraduate education. UH serves the globally competitive Houston and Gulf Coast Region by providing world-class faculty, experiential learning and strategic industry partnerships. Located in the nation's fourth-largest city, UH serves more than 40,900 students in the most ethnically and culturally diverse region in the country.