In Memoriam: Fayez Sarofim
June 15, 2022
June 15, 2022
- Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Southwestern University mourns the loss of Fayez Sarofim, one of the institution’s most generous supporters, who died on May 28, 2022, at the age of 93.
Sarofim was a renowned investor, philanthropist, and patron of the arts. Born in Cairo, Egypt, in 1928, Sarofim came to the United States in 1946 to attend the University of California, Berkeley. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1949, he went on to earn his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He began his career with cotton brokerage firm Anderson, Clayton and Company before founding investment firm Fayez Sarofim & Co. in 1958. The Houston-based firm grew quickly, winning contracts with Rice University, Texas Children’s Hospital, and Ford Motor Company, among others. His reputation grew just as quickly, and he became known as a shrewd and savvy investor. Eventually, the company became the largest investment advisory firm in the Southwest. In 1997, Sarofim was inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame for his pioneering leadership in the field of investment management and his generosity to the community.
Sarofim’s philanthropy was legendary in Houston and beyond. He generously supported a variety of organizations, including Harvard University, Rice University, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Baylor College of Medicine, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Southwestern University. He also donated his time, serving on the boards for several nonprofits, including the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the Houston Ballet Foundation, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Houston Symphony Society.
Sarofim’s relationship with Southwestern began in 1968 when Fayez Sarofim & Co. started managing portions of the University’s endowment. A few years later, he became a benefactor himself, donating millions of dollars to the University over the decades. In 1999, he made a generous gift toward the renovation and expansion of the Fine Arts Center, which included a complete overhaul of the 720-seat Alma Thomas Theater. In recognition of this donation, the Southwestern Board of Trustees voted to rename the school the Fayez Sarofim School of Fine Arts. In addition to supporting the arts program, Sarofim made regular contributions to Southwestern’s annual fund (now called the Southwestern Fund), which supports priority needs on campus such as scholarships, faculty development, library resources, and technology improvements.
In 2008, Sarofim made his single largest philanthropic pledge to Southwestern to support the priority initiatives of the University. Later that year, Southwestern recognized Sarofim with the President’s Philanthropy Award, which recognizes an individual, family, or organization whose contributions have transformed the University, its students, and its faculty. Southwestern also established the Fayez Sarofim Passion for the Arts Award, which is given annually to a graduating senior who exhibits a passion for the arts in their life or work, regardless of their major.
The Southwestern community sends its deepest condolences to the Sarofim family.