Mulva Family Donates $60 Million to Engineering and Business Schools

mulva auditorium

The Mulva Family Foundation has made a $60 million multiyear pledge to The University of Texas at Austin to support the Cockrell School of Engineering and the McCombs School of Business, once again demonstrating a deep commitment to the university’s future and to a continued vision of excellence in teaching and research.

Of the gift, $20 million will go toward the construction of the Cockrell School’s Engineering Education and Research Center (EERC), a 430,000-square-foot building that will transform the Cockrell School. When completed in 2017, the EERC will house state-of-the-art classrooms and labs, as well as an auditorium to educate future leaders. In honor of the gift, the EERC’s 299-seat auditorium will be named the James J. and Miriam B. Mulva Conference Center and Auditorium.

Another $40 million will be used to renovate the Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration buildings, upon consideration and approval of the University of Texas System Board of Regents. The buildings will collectively be renamed the James J. and Miriam B. Mulva Hall.

The Houston-based Mulva Family Foundation’s donation is one of the largest cash pledges made during the course of the Campaign for Texas and provides additional momentum to the campaign as it approaches its conclusion later this year. With this pledge, the campaign is now poised to exceed $2.7 billion in donations, well on its way to the university’s $3 billion goal.

The Mulvas have a long history of supporting the university and stand among UT’s greatest supporters in its 131-year history and among Texas’ top proponents of education. The Mulvas’ deep commitment to the university and to these projects led them to this pledge. Payments during the early years will support the EERC construction, with subsequent payments going toward the McCombs project after it has been fully approved. This will allow the projects to move forward quickly and enable the university to rely on yearly support to sustain them.

"The University of Texas has been very important to our family. Accordingly, it is also important that we give back and assist in the growth and development of this premier institution," said Jim Mulva.

Jim Mulva earned a bachelor’s in business administration from UT Austin in 1968 and an MBA in 1969. He served in the university’s Naval ROTC program and in the U.S. Navy, where he was stationed in Bahrain with Bill Powers, former president of UT Austin. After his service to the nation, Mulva had a distinguished career in the energy industry, which included serving as chairman and chief executive officer of ConocoPhillips.

Reflecting their commitment to Powers’ vision for the university and his long-term leadership, the Mulvas previously donated $15 million to build the Liberal Arts Building on the East Mall that includes space for the university’s ROTC programs. Their philanthropy started with a $100 gift to the McCombs School of Business in 1986.

“Jim and Miriam Mulva’s generosity has already transformed The University of Texas at Austin and will continue to do so for decades to come,” said Powers. “I’ve known Miriam and Jim for more than 45 years. They have always been able to recognize what needs to get done — and then make it happen. Miriam and Jim are doing that again today for our business students, our engineering students and our entire university.”

The EERC will provide students and faculty members with state-of-the-art student project, teaching, research and interactive spaces. The Mulvas’ gift will help build the Cockrell School’s first auditorium, the James J. and Miriam B. Mulva Conference Center and Auditorium, which will become the largest teaching space in the school.

"Jim Mulva's career has exemplified innovation. I am so pleased that his name and Miriam’s name will be seen by thousands of students every week in the premier facility in the U.S. for engineering innovation — and that so many students will directly benefit from the Mulvas’ gift," said Gregory L. Fenves, former dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering.

The gift will help the university meet its goal of raising $105 million from private sources to pay for construction of the $310 million EERC. The Board of Regents has also committed funding and has authorized the university to borrow for the project.

The McCombs School of Business is currently expanding and modernizing its facilities. Phase 1 is the construction of a new building — Rowling Hall — to house and expand graduate and executive business education programming. The planned Phase 2 is the renovation of McCombs’ current buildings to produce state-of-the-art learning and research environments for undergraduate students and McCombs faculty members. The Mulva pledge would constitute the lead gift for Phase 2 of this facilities plan upon consideration and approval by the Board of Regents.

“Modern pedagogy, including the ways in which content is delivered and students learn, is rapidly evolving. These new and upgraded facilities are essential in our efforts to ensure that we maintain our leadership role in business education,” said Thomas W. Gilligan, dean of the McCombs School of Business. “The Mulvas’ generous gift will contribute directly to the ever-increasing quality of our students and faculty and, therefore, to the reputation of our business school and university.”

Their decision to dedicate a substantial portion of their available philanthropy over a long period reflects both the Mulvas’ deep understanding of current students’ needs and their appreciation of how to make nationally ranked programs in business and engineering even stronger.

This is the latest in a series of major gifts the university has received in recent months. Last fall, the Moody Foundation announced a $50 million gift to create the Moody College of Communication, and Michael and Susan Dell and their partners donated the Magnum Photo Archives to the university's Harry Ransom Center.