COLUMBIA — Lori Franz remembers when, nearly 23 years ago, David Housh came up with what she called a "crazy idea."
Housh had been with the MU College of Business for about a year when he proposed a tuxedo dinner for donors.
"The faculty thought it was kind of ridiculous at the time," said Franz, a professor of business. "We didn't think anyone would put on a tuxedo and black tie for it."
She was impressed that Housh could talk an interim dean into the suggestion when most faculty members were not taking the idea seriously.
That event, now called the Davenport dinner, went on to raise millions of dollars and is now held annually by the business school. Furthermore, it has evolved into the Herbert J. Davenport Society, a membership group for donors.
After 10 years as vice chancellor of development and alumni relations, David Housh has asked to retire at the end of October.
He joined MU in 1987, serving as the first development director for the College of Business.
Housh is a Connecticut native, but has been in Columbia for the past 37 years.
“I’m as close to a native of Columbia as you can get without being one,” he said.
He has been in charge of all areas of fundraising at MU, as well as overseeing the Mizzou Alumni Association. He was also in charge of the first comprehensive fundraising campaign for MU but regards the achievement as a group effort.
The campaign — For All We Call Mizzou— began in 2000 with the goal of reaching $600 million to use toward scholarships, facilities and other campus programs. The campaign ultimately brought in more than $1 billion, with the bulk of donations made by MU alumni.
Housh said MU was the 14th public university to raise over $1 billion when the campaign ended in 2008.
“That is what I am most proud of,” he said. “Not for myself, but proud of the teamwork of the deans, campus leaders and students that made it happen.”
Housh planned to retire at the conclusion of the campaign, but Chancellor Brady Deaton asked him to stay for an additional three years to plan the next effort.
Although he is set to retire in October, Housh said he will work on special projects for the chancellor and retain his title and office until a replacement comes aboard.
The success of fundraising through the development program is something Housh hopes to see in future campaigns. He said he believes the program will ensure the financial stability of MU in years to come.
As for future plans, Housh knows exactly where he’s headed — Montana.
He recently sold his home in Columbia, and now he and his wife plan to move to Gallatin Gateway, Mont.
Montana — specifically Helena — is where his grandfather and great-grandfather settled in the 1800s, working as doctors. Housh said his other grandfather rode horses with "Buffalo Bill" Cody in a different part of the state.
When he gets to Gallatin Gateway, Housh plans to work at a hunting or fishing shop, volunteer for his church and help a friend with fundraising at Montana State University.
“Other than that, my fundraising days are over,” Housh said.
He does plan to travel to see his son in Boston, but Housh said he loves Montana and plans to stay “locked in” there.