Donors made fiscal year 2018 the most philanthropic in University of Arizona history, with gifts, pledges and realized bequests totaling $317 million. The previous record of $293.5 million was set in fiscal year 2015.

“UA donors are invigorated about the university’s future and inspired by the dynamic and inclusive strategic plan process President Robert C. Robbins is leading,” said John-Paul Roczniak, president and CEO of the UA Foundation, and vice president of development and chief development officer for the UA.

Donors were especially generous in their endowed giving. Gifts to endowed scholarships, professorships, research funds and other causes, which totaled $92.7 million, exceeded those made in the past three years combined.

“Every gift to the University of Arizona matters and is deeply appreciated. Some gifts provide education to students who otherwise couldn’t afford it, some restore health and some make the business world more collaborative,” Roczniak said.

“The incredible generosity we saw this year accomplished all this and more while building the UA’s endowment, which is our permanent financial foundation.”

On June 30, the end of the fiscal year, the UA’s endowment stood at $847.6 million, a 14 percent increase over the previous year-end total. The university’s goal is to bring the endowment to $1 billion by 2022 in order to drive greater impact and success, Roczniak said.

Program Increases Faculty Investment

The state-funded Eminent Scholars Program was a factor in several donors’ decisions to establish endowed chairs in the past year, said Roczniak. Through the program, each gift will be amplified to grow the fund more quickly and provide more immediate support than is typical with an endowed chair.

One such gift is a new $30 million commitment to support Biosphere 2 made by environmentalist Edward P. Bass. The gift is among the largest donations ever made to the UA and includes two endowed faculty positions.

Another gift will allow the UA to hire an expert on modern Israel in the Arizona Center for Judaic Studies in memory of alumnus Jeffrey B. Plevan. A passionate supporter of Israel, Plevan died unexpectedly from a heart attack in 2013 at the age of 36.

Plevan’s parents, Kenneth A. and Bettina B. “Betsy” Plevan, made a new commitment of $1.5 million, which will be combined with a previous gift of $500,000 to establish the Jeffrey B. Plevan Chair in Israel Studies within the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

“Ken and I hope that an Israel studies professorship will promote a climate of understanding and cooperation among the differing viewpoints on Middle East issues,” Betsy Plevan said.

A Lasting Memorial

Endowments give donors the ability to support a cause far beyond their lifetimes or their loved ones’ lives, as illustrated by another gift from last year.

University Libraries received a $2.3 million gift from the estate of longtime supporter and archaeologist Katheryne “Kate” Willock, who passed away in 2017.

Willock’s gift will equally fund two endowments. One supports graduate assistantships for students in the UA Library and Information Science program, and the second creates the Katheryne B. Willock Dean of University of Arizona Libraries Chair, which will support the position of the dean in perpetuity.

“Her generous gift ensures that students will have real-world experiences in the UA libraries that prepare them to be the leaders of tomorrow in their fields,” said Shan Sutton, dean of University Libraries.

Looking to the Future

In addition to donations, the UA’s endowment is affected by investment performance. Investment decisions for the UA’s endowment are made by the investment committee, appointed by the UA Foundation’s volunteer board of trustees.

“We’re fortunate to have dedicated experts looking long term at how philanthropy can best serve this institution and everyone it benefits,” Roczniak said.

The UA Foundation is a nonprofit with a mission to advance the UA. Its board members are volunteer business and civic leaders and university executives, including Robbins. Three new members joined the board this year:

  • Don Aripoli; Helios Education Foundation; Phoenix
  • Heather Lenkin; Lenkin Design; Pasadena, California
  • John Payne; Sterling Investment Management Inc.; Tucson

The UA Foundation’s directors elect officers to lead the organization. Board officers for fiscal year 2019 are as follows:

  • Chair: Ted H. Hinderaker; Hinderaker Rauh & Weisman PLC; Tucson
  • Vice Chair: Steven Lynn, Strongpoint Marketing LLC; Tucson
  • Secretary: Patricia A. Bartlett; BHI Energy Inc., Excel Scaffolding Inc. and Deltak Manufacturing Inc.; Rancho Santa Fe, California
  • Treasurer: Michael Hannley; Bank of Tucson; Tucson
  • Past Chair: Richard H. Silverman; Jennings, Strouss & Salmon Attorneys at Law; Phoenix

“UA supporters are showing how much they believe in this university and its future. It’s a great privilege to play a part in ushering in a new era in our history. I think coming generations will look back on this moment as the time when generosity became synonymous with Wildcat spirit,” Hinderaker said.

Access the complete list of fiscal year 2019 board members here.