With a steadfast belief in the power of higher education, Dr. Nicky and Lisa Holdeman have committed a combined 45 years and counting of their professional careers to the University of Houston. The Holdeman legacy will now live on through a bequest to the UH College of Medicine that will establish an endowed professorship/chair and endowed scholarship for medical students.
Nicky Holdeman, physician and professor emeritus at the UH College of Optometry, served as associate dean for clinical education and executive director of the University Eye Institute during his 30 years at the college before retiring in 2019. Lisa Holdeman joined UH in 2006 and serves as vice chancellor for the UH System and vice president for UH marketing and communications. She works directly with UH System Chancellor and UH President Renu Khator, as well as UH System and University leadership to advance the national reputation and mission of both. Previously, Holdeman was assistant vice president for development at UH, overseeing corporate and foundation relations, annual giving and gift planning.
- The Nicky R. and Lisa K. Holdeman Endowed Professorship/Chair will support a clinical teaching faculty member responsible for the oversight and strategic direction of the College of Medicine’s clinics, as well as enhancing the student and patient experience.
- The Nicky R. and Lisa K. Holdeman Endowed Scholarship will support students in the College of Medicine, which was founded in 2020 on a social mission to improve health and health care in underserved communities in Houston and across Texas.
“This gift is especially gratifying because it comes from two dedicated UH leaders whose professional careers have already contributed so much to our University’s success,” said Renu Khator. “That kind of enlightened commitment on their part sets an admirable example. I know I speak for many when I express our deep appreciation for their generous support of the College of Medicine and the important work it is undertaking in our community.”
Alumnus Nicky Holdeman, who is both a medical doctor and optometrist, has lectured internationally on various medical and ophthalmic topics, and stays abreast of the fast-evolving medical field. He earned his Bachelor of Science (’74) and Doctorate of Optometry (’76) at UH and his Doctor of Medicine from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.
The Holdemans are inspired by the UH College of Medicine’s mission to address a significant statewide primary care physician shortage and how social determinants of health, such as income, housing, food supply and transportation, contribute to health outcomes.
“I have a true admiration for the comprehensive physician, someone comfortable addressing multiple health issues. Lisa and I very much appreciate the strategic approach the medical school is taking and we are happy to support it,” said Nicky Holdeman. “The physicians being trained at the University of Houston will be well prepared to manage most of the patients, with most conditions, most of the time. That’s really what primary care medicine is all about.”
As the University sought the necessary legislative and academic approvals leading to the medical school’s official establishment in 2020, Nick and Lisa Holdeman were personally engaged. Nick served as a member of the Medical Education Committee and Lisa’s team provided strategic marketing and communications materials to help catapult the College of Medicine – the city of Houston’s first in nearly 50 years – toward success.
“The University of Houston is important to us because education is paramount for the future of our country and the state of Texas. Witnessing the medical school being built from the ground up under the leadership of President Renu Khator and Dr. Stephen Spann has been incredibly rewarding. We know the College of Medicine is filling an important gap in health care, but we also recognize that medical school is expensive. We want to provide opportunities for more students to be successful in the future,” said Lisa Holdeman.
The medical school will welcome its second class of thirty students this summer and will have 480 students at full enrollment, within the decade. Founding Dean Dr. Stephen Spann is grateful for the couple’s generosity.
“Dr. Holdeman and Lisa’s selfless gift will enable our medical school to thrive for decades to come by making sure our students receive the very best training on state-of-the-art equipment and have opportunities for financial assistance. We are eternally thankful for their commitment,” said Spann.
Married for 38 years, the Holdemans’ talents in the classroom and board room, respectively, have left an indelible mark on the University of Houston, according to Eloise Brice, vice president for university advancement.“We are incredibly lucky to have the Holdemans with the University of Houston,” she said. “They have given so much to the University and this gift reflects their generosity as leaders and pace setters at the University of Houston.”