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Ivany Named One of Houstonís Most Influential Woman

Marianne Ivany in the recently-renovated Link-Lee first floor.If you are looking for Marianne Ivany, it is best to look towards the stage. Ivany, the University of St. Thomas’ first lady, has been involved in the arts, theater, singing, music and writing since a young age. More recently however, she has been using her passion for the arts to promote the Performing Arts Society and to raise scholarship money for students in the music and theater departments at the University of St. Thomas.

Her selfless work earned her a nomination from Dr. Michele Simms, UST professor of management and marketing, that led to her selection as one of Houston Woman Magazine’s 50 Most Influential Women of 2013, an honor that Ivany did not see coming.

“Honestly, I don’t think of myself in the same category as Houston’s remarkable philanthropists or amazing movers and shakers,” Ivany said. “I was really surprised and humbled that Dr. Michele Simms felt that there was something she wanted to celebrate with what I am doing at the University of St. Thomas.”

Each honoree was first nominated for inclusion by a current subscriber of Houston Woman Magazine and then selected by the staff of the publication. According to Beverly Denver, publisher of Houston Woman Magazine, the selected women are individuals with vast networks of social and professional connections.

“They have earned an enviable reputation for possessing an expertise in a particular field or arena,” Denver said. “They are considered knowledgeable, credible and trustworthy. The thoughts and actions of these women influence the thoughts and actions of others. It is our distinct privilege to be able to introduce these remarkable women to our community.

Ivany’s philosophy behind her community involvement is simple: She finds something that needs attention and then finds people who share her vision to make it happen. That initiative is what helped her first get involved in Houston’s fine arts scene shortly after moving here in 2004, with husband Dr. Robert Ivany, when he became University president.

“I think because I jumped in with both feet, the transition from life in the military to life in an academic setting was pretty easy,” Ivany said.

Now, in addition to the UST Performing Arts Society, Ivany sits on the Board of Trustees for the Houston Symphony and is on its education committee, working to give young children access to the arts.

Ivany still participates in the arts herself. As a UST student enrolled in the Master of Liberal Arts program where she is focusing on the creative arts, Ivany has written poetry, two plays and short stories, performed in the children’s theater productions and given flute recitals. 

“We are an awesome city for the arts,” Ivany said. “I think that is why St. Thomas is so well positioned. Our campus resides in the heart of the Museum district, giving our students unbelievable access to all the great cultural activities this city has to offer. UST has partnered with most of the fine and performing arts organizations in town, providing a significant benefit to our students.”

The performing arts venues in Houston, Ivany asserts, rival any in New York City, but with greater accessibility.

“There are studies that show right-brained people need to do left-brained activities to be happy, and I think it is true,” Ivany said. “Have you noticed how many medical professionals and scientists who play music on the side or perform in the theater? Granted, not everyone can be a performer, but we can all be audience members whose lives are enriched through the beauty of the arts.”