Record Fundraising Highlights UA Culture of Collaboration

Fiscal 2015 saw nearly $300 million in gifts and commitments, with $1.273 billion of the Arizona NOW campaign already achieved.
Jan. 6, 2016
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The University of Arizona Foundation received a record $293 million in gifts and commitments in fiscal 2015. The investments, both outright and endowed, show just how much alumni, friends and donors believe in the institution and its future.

Philanthropic support for the UA never has been stronger than it is today. For three out of the past four years, philanthropic giving to the University has topped the previous year. Records also were set in 2012 with $212 million raised, and in 2014 with $234 million in gifts and commitments.

These investments in the UA are the essence of the Arizona NOW campaign, which aims to raise $1.5 billion by June 30, 2018. At the close of last fiscal year, $1.273 billion of that goal was achieved through more than 300,000 gifts from nearly 85,000 donors.

"Thanks to the overwhelming generosity and dedication of UA alumni and friends, the campaign is on pace to reach our goal well ahead of schedule," said Sarah Smallhouse, campaign co-chair. "People realize their gifts are as impactful as they have ever been. Private donations to the University are allowing students and faculty to keep their momentum in a most difficult fiscal environment."

The campaign is closely aligned with the University’s Never Settle strategic academic and business plan, which focuses on engagement, innovation, partnership and synergy. Donor support is essential to enhance the student experience, empower innovative thinkers and expand the UA’s reach.

"By supporting the University of Arizona, our donors help drive the University’s work to ever-greater heights of excellence," said UA President Ann Weaver Hart. "Through their transformative support, these vital partners are creating the foundation for our best and brightest students, faculty and researchers to address the world’s most pressing challenges with new knowledge and innovations that will heighten our collective impact."

Investments large and small contributed to Arizona NOW’s fundraising record last year. Among them are a $50 million estate gift from the late philanthropist Agnese Nelms Haury — one of the largest gifts in UA history — and a $500 scholarship gift from recent alumnus Charles Ezeani.

Haury’s endowed funds will benefit the University in perpetuity, facilitating ongoing University and community partnerships aligned with her lifelong interests in social justice and the environment. Growing the UA’s $673 million endowment is imperative to keeping the institution competitive for generations to come. While it is strong and the largest higher-education endowment in Arizona, it currently ranks in the bottom third by size compared to 14 institutional peers — including many in the Pac-12 Conference.

Ezeani, whose scholarship gift memorializes his late friend and fellow alum Uchenna Okeke, said it is critical for alumni to get involved.

"You look at other top universities and their endowment fund, and what makes them a top school is their alumni involvement," Ezeani said. "I was a sophomore when Uche passed away, and I remember thinking, 'I’ve got to do something because this is someone that meant a whole lot to me.' I graduated in 2013, and I decided the best time was now. I’m trying to make an impact on someone else’s life and honor the legacy of someone who made an impact on mine."

Given that Ezeani and Okeke graduated with degrees in electrical and computer engineering, it is fitting that the scholarship provides support to an undergraduate engineering major. Its impact is extended through matching gifts from the UA College of Engineering and Ezeani’s employer, Goldman Sachs.

"It’s exciting to see the UA’s culture of collaboration come to life in the form of philanthropy," said John-Paul Roczniak, interim president of the UA Foundation. "We had an amazing year, but we still have much to do and our donors are helping us get there. The success of this campaign is a true team effort — every gift makes a difference."