A building at 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 university.
Durga D Agrawal, a long-time Houstonian, is well known for his contributions towards community, particularly for his alma mater – University of Houston (UH). The university, a public research college founded in 1927, recognised his generous gift by renaming the engineering building as the Durga D and Sushila Agrawal Engineering Research Building on April 26, 2019.
Indian-American chancellor and president of the university Renu Khator, Consul General of India Dr Anupam Ray, members of the Indian community, students and faculty were present at the building dedication ceremony. The USD 51 million building opened in 2017 and earlier had a floor named after the couple.
In his speech, the 74 year old man from a nondescript village in Lakhanpur in Madhya Pradesh (central India), credited several people for his success. He expressed his respect and gratitude for his professors at UH who “put their heart and soul” into teaching students including some like him who had trouble understanding both the language and the American accent. He concluded by saying, “UH has a very special place in my heart. We must keep torch of the knowledge, excellence and innovation growing and glowing.”
At the ceremony, Khator 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.”
Durga D Agrawal had migrated to Houston in 1968 after his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Delhi College of Engineering. He then went on to earn two advanced degrees in Industrial Engineering from UH’s Cullen College of Engineering. Over the years he has been providing endowments, scholarships and internships for UH students and also aiding their research projects. In 2013, he was named 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.
Dr Durga put his entrepreneurship skills to use and built his company Piping Technology and Products in 1975. It is now one of the leading providers of pipes for industrial and construction needs and employs over a 1000 people. He is also known for being the first major donor and founding president of India House, a community center that offers free services and community programmes. Being the founder and first president of Indo American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston, he has also been a part of various delegations to promote trade and the exchange of educational and medical resources between Houston and India. He was once introduced by President George Bush as “my good friend from Texas” at a State Dinner for former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Capitol Hill.