A building at the University of Houston has been renamed after an Indian-American couple in recognition of their contribution to aid research projects, faculty and students at the varsity.
The university, a public research college founded in 1927, renamed its Engineering Research Building after Durga D Agrawal and Sushila, long-time Houstonians, on April 26, university officials said.
Indian-American chancellor and president of the university Renu Khator, Consul General of India Anupam Ray, members of the Indian community, students and faculty were present at the building dedication ceremony.
The USD 51-million building, which opened in 2017, had earlier named a floor after the couple.
The Durga D and Sushila Agrawal Engineering Research Building has been named to recognise a transformational gift that the Agrawals have made, an university release said.
Agrawal, 74, who is from a nondescript village in Madhya Pradesh’s Lakhanpur, expressed his admiration and respect for his professors at the university, who “put their heart and soul” into teaching students including some like him who had trouble understanding the language and the American accent.
Having immigrated to Houston in 1968, after his Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Delhi College of Engineering, Agrawal earned two advanced degrees in Industrial Engineering from the University of Houston’s (UH) Cullen College of Engineering.
He is a member of the UH System Board of Regents and serves as chair on the UH’s endowment management committee.
He also served on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for four years.
Durga started his piping technology and products company in 1975. Today, the company is a leading player in its category and employs over a 1,000 people.
“My life’s philosophy is to always be optimistic. One can achieve any goal with hard work, persistence and determination,” he said.
Family bonds are important to the Agrawals.
“My parents played a major role in teaching me the values of giving and being kind. The UH has a very special place in my heart. We must keep the torch of knowledge, excellence and innovation growing and glowing,” he said.
At the dedication ceremony, president of the university Khatos said,”We named the new engineering building after Dr and Mrs Durga Agrawal, our alum and regent, to celebrate their generosity and their gift will inspire our students and alumni for many generations.”
The building on campus bears no resemblance to the one Durga studied in but has been rebuilt on the same piece of land.
Agrawal was the first major donor and founding president of India House, a community centre that offers free services and community programs.
Being the founder and first president of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston, Agarwal has been part of many delegations to promote trade and exchange of educational and medical resources between Houston and India.
He was once introduced by former President George Bush as “my good friend from Texas” at a State Dinner for India’s then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Capitol Hill.