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Houston’s Scarlet Pimpernel

Piloting the Legacy of Generosity


High-Flying & Well-Grounded 

Patrick Moran loves to fly airplanes. He enjoys feeling the wind beneath his wings, the speed of the plane, and the power of the engine. Introduced to airplanes at a young age, Moran was living on an Air Force base in Greenville, South Carolina, when his father went off to fight in the Korean War.

Daring Hero

As a teenager living in Houston, Moran and his brother would drive to William P. Hobby Airport to watch the planes come and go. When his career as a lawyer took off, Moran started flying and realized he had a knack for it, selflessly committing 23 years to the part-time role of aircraft commander with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary as a search and rescue pilot.

Some might call Moran a risk-taker. After all, his resume includes piloting high-powered planes in all conditions; flying over Crimea; and publishing books on Russian and Chinese military aircraft, weapon systems, and naval developments. Today, Moran continues to channel his aerial interests for service to others and is involved with the Ukrainian military. Moran’s wife, Ann, describes him as “the Scarlet Pimpernel.” He enjoyed flying Madeleine Albright and working in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, and the Black Sea area.

Down-to-earth and Well-grounded

Despite his high-flying hobby, Moran is down-to-earth and has roots in Catholic values. Educated at Strake Jesuit, Notre Dame and Georgetown, he joined the University of St. Thomas Board of Directors in 1992 at the invitation of then-President Joseph McFadden. Serving through President J. Michael Miller’s tenure, Moran was elected chairman twice, ending his service in 2006. During those years, many worried Moran would push the University to the brink of financial ruin with his suggestions to buy more of the land around it. As it turned out, Moran’s farsightedness allowed UST to acquire a scarce commodity that would serve the University well in the future.

The Moran Parking Center, primarily funded by his generous grandparents through the W.T. and Louise J. Moran Foundation, helped the University grow by solving its parking situation. He also gave the thumbs up to buy two office buildings, one at the corner of Richmond and Montrose and the other at Yoakum and Colquitt, creating new frontiers for the University’s expansion, including development of the advanced and emerging esports realm.

Believes in a Values-based Education

Moran believes in education, especially a values-based one. He knows that St. Thomas graduates people who do not operate on automatic pilot.

“They are not going through the steps of their career by rote, and they aren’t looking the other way if they discover an error in their work,” he said. “They admit a mistake, fix it, and know that their good judgment is the moral compass needed in society. There is less time for thought as things accelerate, so strong values need to be a learned reflex.”

Giving Back to Family and the Community

His family taught him to give back to the community. “Part of the reason you make money and accumulate it,” Moran said, “is to help others.” He and Ann established the PJ Moran Foundation, which supports educational causes. He is thoughtful in his giving and cites Odis and Carol Peavy’s gift to restore UST’s School of Nursing as having “an amazing impact, especially for women who dominate that field. Buying real estate, as I did, pales behind their gesture.”

Family means “everything” to Moran. He values his own and muses that “families lean in when the skies are gray.” Likewise, he says the UST community leans in to treat students like family, reaching out in times of need such as the Hurricane Harvey disaster when St. Thomas offered students aid and hardship awards through its CeltCare Program.

Celebrating Pat Moran

Moran likes making connections with people, and he loves the people at the University of St. Thomas. Not surprisingly, the feeling is mutual. UST loves this high-flying, well-grounded, risk-taking visionary.

Chief Development Officer Dawn Koenning said, “As UST celebrates its 75th anniversary and looks to the future, we recognize and celebrate Pat Moran’s critical involvement in our history, past capital campaigns and continued loyal friendship. The world needs more friends like Pat Moran.”  

About the Author — Sandra Soliz, MLA '01 Soliz

AvatarSandra Soliz, director of Communications for University of St. Thomas, has served the University for 20 years in Marketing Communications Department. In her position, she handles media relations and serves as the editor of the Encounter Magazine.

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