Success Breeds Success

Bill Hickl ('86) starts an endowed scholarship for accounting students

When Bill Hickl (’86) attended The University of Houston in the 1980s, it was more of a commuter school than it is now. Like many UH students back then, he lived at home and drove to the campus for his classes. After he graduated, he made a yearly alumni donation and, before long, became a UHAA Life Member. In many regards, he was a typical alumni member, carrying warm memories and pride in his UH experiences. 

This year, the C. T. Bauer College of Business is establishing the Bill and Michelle Hickl Accounting Endowed Scholarship — which will help fund a Bauer accounting student’s four-year education. How did Hickl’s involvement in UH go from typical to extraordinary? 

One word: Engagement. 

A few years back, Starlet Agrella (’86), former president of the UH Alumni Association Board of Directors, recruited Hickl to join the alumni board.  

“That’s what deepened my connection to UH,”
Hickl says.
“I remember during my board orientation, Mike Pedé telling me that an engaged alumni member gives more. That stuck in my mind, and it proved to be true — even for myself. The more I learned about alumni activities, the more I saw how scholarships are essential to student success and the more I heard from alumni who cared deeply, the more enthused I became.”

Hickl has since served as president himself and continues to spread the enthusiasm about alumni activities. 

Hickl says that of the 300,000 UH alumni, there are more than 180,000 living and working in the greater Houston area.

“With such a large metro area, we have a captive audience and should keep them engaged,” he said.  

Hickl is the Texas Market Managing Partner, Tax at BDO USA in Houston and figured that many of his co-employees probably got their start at UH and may also want to be involved in UH’s continued success. 

“The year I became UH Alumni Association Board president, I called my HR director and asked her how many of our 500+ employees in our Houston office graduated from the University of Houston, and she told me we had 125 employees with degrees from UH.”   

Item 1 of 2

Bill and Michelle Hickl with President Renu Khator

Bill and Michelle Hickl with President Renu Khator

Bill and Michelle Hickl with Shasta at the Peach Bowl

Bill and Michelle Hickl with Shasta at the Peach Bowl

Seeing all that alumni potential, Hickl and his wife Michelle established an endowed scholarship to support accounting students. He hopes the donor fever will spread to all corners of the UH System. 

“The existing UH Alumni Association Endowment that funds multiple scholarships at UH is approximately $10.6 million,” Hickl said. “Given the large alumni population in our area, we should have a $50 million endowment!”  

The key to increasing the participation, Hickl asserts, is getting the alumni membership excited and energetic.  

“The more involved you get, the more enthused you become. Things like our new stadium are great ways to build excitement and involvement,” he shares. “Watching our athletes win championships, reading of how our researchers make new discoveries and seeing the campus grow and thrive are what build excitement and engagement. That’s the key. Success breeds success.”