Pat Mulvey

$1B Fundraiser Applies Social Sciences to Benefit Cancer Center

Pat Mulvey

When Pat Mulvey, ’72, earned his bachelor’s degree in liberal arts, with an emphasis on sociology and psychology, he never imagined becoming a fundraiser.

He certainly never dreamed of leading a team of 120 development professionals to raise more than $1 billion for The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center – now the No. 1 cancer center in the world.

Mulvey’s start in the “people business” began at the University of St. Thomas, where he served as an admissions counselor and student recruiter for eight years after graduation. He continued honing his relational skills as UST’s dean of student affairs in the early 1980s.

When he was called to MD Anderson in 1985 for his first fundraising role, he joined a shop of six people as the assistant director for development services. He was quickly promoted to take charge of the team, and over the next 25 years, has grown it more than ten-fold, to 125.

The fundraising results have been dramatic: his first campaign for MD Anderson in the early 1990s, designed to add facilities and fund a strategic plan, was $151 million. It was completed a year and a half ahead of schedule.

His team’s most recent achievement – Houston’s first successful $1 billion campaign – also achieved its goal ahead of schedule and well exceeded its financial mark.

“My social sciences background, combined with my life experiences relating to people, have served me well throughout my career,” Mulvey said. “My philosophy classes have been especially meaningful to me; they helped me understand the nature of man and allowed me to study the great thinkers of the world.”

Mulvey said he was fortunate that his family believed strongly in the importance of education, with his father graduating from Texas A&M, his mother from Rice University and his brother, Jay John Mulvey, from UST.

Mulvey’s family has deep ties to St. Thomas, with his grandfather, John Ralph Mulvey, serving as the first chairman of the board, and his father, John Ralph Mulvey Jr., also serving in leadership roles for the university.

He loves the family tradition of service to a greater cause. “When you work for a nonprofit, you view yourself as a servant of mankind,” he said. “For all 19,000 of us at MD Anderson, we know what we do makes life better for the patient today and for future generations.”

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