Cathy Coers Frank (’80)
Cathy Coers Frank (’80) is a native Houstonian who is almost more involved with UH activities now than when she was a student! In 2006, she received the Distinguished Service Award from the University of Houston Alumni Association, and has served the UH chapter of Chi Omega Sorority for more than 35 years as the Panhellenic advisor and the Chi Omega Alumnae Association as the current Panhellenic delegate and past alumnae president — plus many, many more board positions and involvement in many other UH and Houston-area organizations. Along with her husband, Cathy founded Class Act Reunions, a full-time reunion-planning company serving the Houston area. In her spare time, she enjoys spectator sports — especially Cougar football — going to concerts, working out and running.
LUNAR COUGAR: When it came time for you to choose a college, why did you choose to attend UH?
CATHY COERS FRANK: I was driven past the University of Houston by my mom and dad nearly every day for the first eight years of my life. My grandfather built many of the houses on North and South MacGregor Drive and we lived nearby. My uncle was the chair of the Mechanical Engineering department. I had taken the stage many times for dance recitals in the Cullen Performance Hall. There wasn’t much about UH that I didn’t know, but when it came to college, I didn’t know where to go.
Then the signs started pointing to UH. I wanted to major in Radio-TV-Film, and I found out that UH had a good program for my prospective major, but so did some other schools. My future was sealed at UH when my high school dance team received a flyer about Cougar Dolls. I called the band director, Dr. Bill Moffit, and he convinced me to come here. I finally said to myself, “Why go away when everything I want is twenty minutes away?”
Do you have any particular favorite UH memories from your time as a student?
Yes! I had the privilege of attending and dancing at the ’79 Cotton Bowl, more commonly known as “The Ice Bowl.” The worst ice storm in Dallas’ history hit prior to the UH-Notre Dame bowl game. I performed in my Cougar Doll costume, without a coat or warm-up suit, in the frigid weather and sitting on the bleachers until I couldn’t feel the seat underneath me. Some band members and Cougar Dolls went to sit on the warm bus after halftime, but I stayed to cheer. We lost to Notre Dame when Joe Montana threw a much-disputed last-second touchdown. If you were there, you’ll never forget it.
After the game, finally able to board the bus for home, I was relieved to be warm and be able to get some sleep in my bus seat. When I awoke three hours later I assumed we were just miles from Houston. I couldn’t believe when I found out we were just south of Dallas in Palmer, Texas. In the ice storm after the game, the band busses were only able to travel about 18 miles. Local churches opened their doors to the stranded members of the Cougar Marching Band and I camped out on a pew in the Palmer Baptist Church. I raided the church nursery for pillows, blankets and baby mattresses to sleep on. It wasn’t funny at the time, but it is now.
How do you use what you learned at UH in your career now?
I owe any success I’ve had personally and professionally to all the contacts I made at UH during my college years and beyond. I’ve been involved with the UH Alumni Association (UHAA) since the early 1980s, and worked there in the mid-1980s. I can’t thank UH enough. It helped give me my first real job at KHOU-TV (Channel 11) in Houston and friends I’ll have the rest of my life. I would have missed out on so much if I hadn’t gone to a Young Alumni League happy hour that my friend invited me to attend.
What would you say to fellow alumni to encourage them to get involved with their alma mater?
You’re going to miss out on a lot of fun, friends and memories if you’re not active with UH. Between the activities, sporting events — both at home and away — and Moores School of Music performances, there are tons of things to do on campus for collegians and alumni and their guests. And the UHAA is committed to providing scholarships for so many deserving students, and hosting many alumni association events during the year.
What was it like to receive the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Award in 2006? What does that honor mean to you?
I was beyond honored and excited when Steve Hall, the UHAA Executive Director at the time, called me to let me know I was receiving the award at the Distinguished Alumni Gala that November at the UH Hilton. I’ll never forget the evening when I was honored and was glad my mom and dad, Leona and Erwin Coers, could attend. This was the last time the three of us were on campus together, so the photos of that evening are among my favorites.
Coaches Bill Yeoman and Guy V. Lewis played a big part in my coming to UH, and both of them were in attendance that evening. As a plus, their wives were there as well and these two special ladies were honored with the “President’s Award” that evening, making the Gala even more meaningful to my family and me. In my remarks I made after I received my award, I was able to thank them publicly for all they’d meant to my family and me, along with many other friends who’re still an important part of my life (and, at the time, the life of my parents).
Why is it important to you to give back to UH not only through volunteerism, but financially?
To my way of thinking, if every UH graduate and friend gave a monetary donation to UH, we’d be set! I was excited when I attended the “Here, We Go” launch event in January; during the presentation, it was reported a record-number of UH alumni donated for the first time — more than 92,000 people. I loved hearing that amazing news! The launch event was amazing and a very, very well-done evening that celebrated my beloved university. My parents loved the University, too — they both requested that any donations in their memory be made to the Spirit of Houston.
What would you like to see UH accomplish by 2020?
I’d like for us to continue to be “Houston’s University.” We need to convince prospective students they can have it all at UH by living on campus, getting a world-class education on Cullen Blvd. and going to college in the same town where they’ll probably spend all or most of their working lives. The business and personal contacts they’ll make will enrich their lives beyond measure. I lived on campus in the Moody Towers for all four years and loved the convenience of living on campus and not having to worry about meals.
Also, President Renu Khator is the best ambassador UH could have ever asked for! She’s reached so many of her goals, and UH is a better place for her leadership. I can’t wait to hear what she’s got planned for the future.