Fixer Upper fans who also happen to support Houston Baptist University were in for a treat last month. To host its Spirit of Excellence Gala, the private Christian college tapped none other than HGTV star Chip Gaines, also a best-selling author and co-founder of the popular Magnolia home and lifestyle brand with his wife, Joanna. The Waco-based couple recently announced their own Discovery TV network, delighting fans who'd lamented the last ever Fixer Upper episode in April.
Days before that announcement, which came during an appearance on The Tonight Show, Gaines was in Houston to talk family and faith with his friend, HBU president Robert Sloan, during his keynote address. The gala, held at The Post Oak Hotel, also honored community leaders and HBU supporters including Janice and Robert C. McNair, Dr. Archie and Linda Dunham, Sherry and Jim Smith, Pinky Pampell, and Colin Montgomerie, all identified as exemplars of the school's mission. The McNairs and Dr. Stewart Morris Sr. chaired the gala.
Guests also enjoyed dinner, a performance by HBU alum Mon'Sher Spencer, an appearance by HBU mascot Kiza the Husky, and an auction of HBU experiences like a private tour and dinner in the three University museums, "HBU Cheerleader for a Day," and Camp HBU registration and gear.
All told, the night raised $658,434 to help endow more university scholarships—94 percent of students (of which there are about 3,300) receive financial aid. HBU awarded $42 million in scholarships and institutional grants last year alone.