University friend provides gift for the future
James Hightower loved to learn. His passion for education drove him to University of Houston-Clear Lake, a place that not only allowed him to continue to learn, but also introduced him to friend, mentor and teacher Associate Professor of Psychology Howard Eisner. When Hightower died in 1988, his sister, Norma Hightower, believed that the best way to memorialize her brother would be to support scholarships at the university that had offered him a place to grow.
“My brother’s hobby was to collect master’s degrees,” says Norma. “He said he always had the three things necessary to continue his education: the time; the money and the desire to learn.”
Originally a French teacher in a local high school, James eventually moved to Japan to teach for 15 years. However, once he returned to the states, he continued his education and, eventually, made his way to UH-Clear Lake. When he met Eisner, he recognized a kindred spirit. The two became friends, even visiting socially with their spouses on occasion.  
“Establishing a long-term gift for future generations of college students is extraordinary,” says UH-Clear Lake Associate Vice President for University Advancement Dion McInnis. “It means that students will get a chance to meet their educational goals and, like James Hightower, fulfill their own passion for learning.”
Out of respect and admiration of her brother and his love for learning, she created a scholarship endowment to assist undergraduate and graduate students majoring in behavioral science, psychology and/or anthropology.
“I receive nice letters from the recipients,” says Norma, who began her career as a social worker before eventually retiring after a 30-year career in personnel at Prudential. “I received one nice letter from a mother who was very happy to say that her daughter went to school at UH-Clear Lake on a Hightower scholarship and that now her daughter is a teacher sharing her love of education.”
Building on her early career field of social work and her work in human resources at Prudential, Norma’s desire to help will continue after her death with the $50,000 she has left to the university in her will to be added to the James and Norma Hightower Scholarship Fund.  
“When we established the scholarship, Dr. Eisner said to me, ‘You don’t know how much a few hundred dollars can help a student,” explains Norma. “I hope that it does. It would certainly please my brother.”
To find out more about establishing a bequest to assist future students, call UH-Clear Lake’s Office of University Advancement, 281-283-2021, or visit giving.
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University of Houston-Clear Lake offers more than 80 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including a doctoral program, from its four schools, which include the School of Business, School of Education, School of Human Sciences and Humanities, and School of Science and Computer Engineering. For more information about the university, visit
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