James C. Wyant and his family made a $20 million gift to empower the College of Optical Sciences to recruit faculty for a minimum of 10 endowed chairs.
James C. Wyant and his family made a $20 million gift to empower the College of Optical Sciences to recruit faculty for a minimum of 10 endowed chairs.

At Nearly $335M, Giving to UA Foundation Breaks Record

Supporters are bringing the UA’s $1 billion endowment goal closer. This year’s gifts included significant investments in students and faculty.
Sept. 25, 2019

For the second year in a row, alumni and friends broke the record for philanthropic support of the University of Arizona, giving $334.6 million to the UA Foundation during fiscal year 2019. The previous fiscal year, the total for gifts, pledges and realized bequests topped $300 million for the first time, coming in at $317 million.

"Breaking our fundraising record two years in a row is a testament to the generosity of the University of Arizona community," said UA President Robert C. Robbins. "Fulfilling our commitment to expand human potential, explore new horizons and enrich life for all will take Wildcats and supporters from all walks of life coming together to support our mission, and with this result we are showing the world what it means to Bear Down."

The UA was recognized during the past year as one of America's 100 favorite charities. The Chronicle of Philanthropy identified the organizations Americans are most willing to support, based on how much they raised in cash and stock. The UA was the only Arizona university to make the list.

The past two years were noteworthy not only for overall philanthropy but for endowment giving, said John-Paul Roczniak, who is vice president of development and chief development officer for the UA and president and CEO of the UA Foundation.

Gifts to endowed scholarships, faculty chairs, and program and research funds build the university's endowment. The university's goal is to bring the endowment to $1 billion by 2021 in order to strengthen its financial bedrock for the future and better serve humanity today, said Roczniak.

On June 30, which marked the end of the fiscal year, the UA endowment had reached $928 million, a 9.5% increase over the previous year-end total.

"I'm immensely grateful for what generosity is doing for this university," said Roczniak. "We're on track to reach our endowment goal, and we're well positioned to begin implementing our strategic plan, with student support as our first priority."

Investments in Students and Faculty

One of the year's major gifts came from an anonymous donor who gave a total of $25 million to the College of Engineering and the UA Cancer Center. The gift will provide substantial support to engineering students and faculty, said David Hahn, dean of the College of Engineering.

"This gift enables us to take a quantum step forward in making the UA the kind of a destination where students want to come because of the richness of our curriculum and the unique things that we're doing," he said.

Two more of this year's significant gifts were made by Dr. Andrew Weil and James Wyant, distinguished faculty members who invested in the future of scholarship at the UA through endowed chairs. Endowed chairs greatly increase the university's ability to retain and attract exceptional faculty members and provide the chair holders with resources to advance their research and teaching.

Weil, an integrative medicine pioneer, best-selling author and philanthropist, committed $15 million, adding to a previous $5 million gift. His new contribution named the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine and established the Andrew Weil Endowed Chair in Integrative Medicine, the Andrew Weil Endowed Chair for Research in Integrative Medicine and the Andrew Weil Endowed Program Fund for Integrative Medicine.

Dr. Victoria Maizes, the center's director since 2004, is the inaugural holder of the Andrew Weil Endowed Chair in Integrative Medicine. The first holder of the Andrew Weil Endowed Chair for Research in Integrative Medicine is Dr. Esther Sternberg, director of research for the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine since 2012.

Wyant's gift was the university's largest ever for endowed chair positions. Wyant and his family made a $20 million gift to empower the college to recruit faculty for a minimum of 10 endowed chairs.

Wyant is founding dean and professor emeritus of the James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences and has co-founded two optics companies. He has been recognized as a pioneer in the optics and photonics field with numerous awards.

In 2013, Wyant gave $10 million for graduate student scholarships in a campaign called FoTO, an acronym for Friends of Tucson Optics. As a result, 30 scholarship endowments were established, each bearing the name of a donor. As with the FoTO campaign, the Wyant family's gift for endowed chairs offers matching funds to inspire others to give.

Both Weil's gift and the Wyant family's qualify for amplified funding through the state-funded Eminent Scholars Program. This means each donated fund will grow more quickly and provide more immediate support than is typical with an endowed chair.

Leading the Fundraising Effort

The UA was recognized for excellence in fundraising this past year with an Educational Fundraising Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. The university's fundraising, endowment investing, and gift stewardship are managed by the UA Foundation, a nonprofit with a mission to advance the UA.

The UA Foundation's board members are volunteer business and civic leaders and university executives, including Robbins. Seven new members joined the board this year.

  • Nancy C. Berge, community volunteer, Mesa
  • Ginny L. Clements, Golden Eagle Distributors Inc., Tucson
  • Gilbert Davidson, state of Arizona, Phoenix
  • Joan Stevie Eller, The Eller Company, Phoenix
  • Liesl Folks, University of Arizona, Tucson
  • Daisy M. Jenkins, Daisy Jenkins & Associates LLC, Tucson
  • Cortez Smith, University of Arizona, Tucson

The UA Foundation's directors elect officers to lead the organization. Board officers for 2019-2020 are as follows.

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

"This is a thrilling and rewarding time to invest in the UA. I encourage community members, alumni, parents and students to volunteer, get involved in the university, and give if you can. It will benefit you and others," Hinderaker said.

Access the complete list of board members here.