President's Message: Announcing Aug. 14 Commencement Speakers & President’s Medallion Recipients
Dear UHD Gators,
I am looking forward to University of Houston-Downtown’s Commencement Ceremony on August 14 at NRG Stadium. The day’s events signify an important milestone for many of you since you will be able to celebrate with the full pomp and circumstance befitting the occasion. It will hold special meaning for me as well as it will be my first chance to celebrate your accomplishments in-person.
In keeping with the long-standing tradition to welcome speakers who will impart words of wisdom to our newly minted alumni, I would like to announce two special guests who will join us in the ceremonies: Marilyn Davies and Dr. Antonio D. Tillis.
Ms. Davies, as you no doubt recognize, is the namesake for the Marilyn Davies College of Business. Her gift of $10 million to UHD in 2017 created a transformational endowment that continues to support the college’s growing programs, exceptional faculty and student resources, and it reinforces Houston’s prominence in the business sector. This gift, the largest in the institution's history, created the first named college at UHD. As a result of her generous contribution, UHD proudly hosts the first college of business in the state to be named for a woman, and it remains among only a handful of schools nationally to hold this distinction.
There will be another familiar name present during the ceremony with Dr. Tillis, who served as the University’s Interim President from 2020-2021. In this capacity, he worked collaboratively to promote student and faculty development, to engage the community, and to advance the strategic vision of UHD. During his tenure, UHD's enrollment grew during the summer, fall, and spring semesters. He strengthened UHD’s partnership with the Office of the Mayor that is providing students with internship opportunities at City Hall, and he also launched several new initiatives, one of which included the creation of a university-wide Diversity Taskforce.
Since departing UHD, Dr. Tillis was named Chancellor for Rutgers University-Camden. Founded in 1926, the institution operates as a research university that employs more than 300 faculty members; serves 7,000-plus students annually; and offers undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees.
I am pleased to announce that both Chancellor Tillis and Ms. Davies will be receiving President’s Medallions this year. Created in 2019, the President’s Medallion is awarded at the discretion of the UHD President to individuals or organizations who are distinguished by their service to the University community. Both have certainly earned this honor for his great service and dedication to UHD, and I look forward to presenting it to them.
I hope you will join me in celebrating his distinction during this ceremony just as we will all celebrate your own achievements on this day. Once again, congratulations to all the UHD graduates, and I look forward to seeing you all on August 14. I wish you all the very best!
Loren J. Blanchard, Ph.D.
President, University of Houston-Downtown