Tucson community leader Ginny L. Clements has committed $3 million to the University of Arizona to assist with construction costs for Arizona Athletics’ new academic center. The gift will be grouped with the $2.5 million donation from Andrew and Kirsten Braccia, the $1 million commitment from Dr. David Lapan and family, $500,000 of Steve and Margot Kerr’s previously announced $1 million donation, and a $500,000 anonymous gift to assist in funding the project.
The facility, now open but not entirely complete, is known as the Ginny L. Clements Academic Center.
“The University of Arizona’s athletics program, for so many years, has remained an integral part of my life,” Clements said. “Helping student-athletes with their academic pursuits is extremely important to me. I am thrilled to be a part of this new academic center.”
Clements is chairman of the board of Golden Eagle Distributors Inc. Prior to her retirement from the day-to-day operations in 2003, she held the positions of chairman, CEO and treasurer. She has helped raise millions of dollars for a number of Tucson nonprofits, and has been an integral member of more than 50 boards, both locally and nationally, including the University of Arizona Foundation Board of Trustees, the UA Cancer Center advisory board, the Steele Children’s Research Center advisory board and the Tucson Airport Authority. She also served as chairman of Angel Charity for Children Inc. Clements has been recognized as one of the Inside Tucson Business Women of Influence and received the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson’s Cornerstone Award, in addition to many other awards and honors.
A California native and longtime Tucson resident, Clements is married to Tom Rogers. She has two children — Christopher, who served as CEO of Golden Eagle, and Kimberly, who served as president — two stepdaughters, Tiffany and Michelle, and seven grandchildren.
“We’re so grateful for the support Ginny and her family have provided Arizona Athletics throughout the years, and specifically for this gift toward our academic center,” said Greg Byrne, the UA’s director of athletics. “Ginny has been an integral part of the Tucson community and a leader in helping a number of different causes, many of which are based on the advancement of education. This project is a testament to her views on the importance of education, and it will surely have a lasting impact on the development of our student-athletes.”
Under the leadership of Clements, and previously her late husband William M. “Bill” Clements, who served as president, CEO and chairman of the board prior to his death in 1995, Golden Eagle Distributors was the exclusive distributor of Anheuser-Busch products throughout much of Arizona for more than 42 years. The third-generation, family-owned company was driven by strong business and community values. Golden Eagle Distributors has helped a multitude of community organizations, not only in the Tucson area, but in the territories it served around the state of Arizona, always continuing to stress the importance of education.
In 1979, Bill Clements established the Golden Eagle Awards with Arizona Athletics. In 2011, the awards were renamed the Golden Eagle Academic Champion Awards. The Golden Eagle Awards and the Golden Eagle Academic Champion Awards acknowledge student-athletes, not only for their individual athletic achievements but also for their ability to maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher in the classroom.
“Ginny L. Clements is such a wonderful friend of the University of Arizona, and this gift is a remarkable contribution to her legacy of partnership and impact at the UA,” said UA President Ann Weaver Hart. “Along with the generous gifts from the Lapan and Braccia families, Ginny’s leadership in enabling the completion of this important facility will ensure the ongoing success of Arizona Athletics and the academic excellence of the incredibly talented student-athletes who build such an important point of community for southern Arizona, the UA, and our friends and alumni around the world. I am very grateful for her generosity.”
The Clements Academic Center, an approximately 15,000-square-foot, two-story structure, is designed to streamline the support provided by the C.A.T.S. Academics department. The new center will help Arizona Athletics academic initiatives operate in a fluid and functional manner. The additional space and the diversification of that space will allow for more one-on-one interactions with student-athletes, while providing an increase in private locations to work and study.
“The Clements Academic Center will serve as a wonderful resource as we continue our mission to provide student-athletes with the support they need to succeed academically,” added John Mosbach, associate director of athletics for C.A.T.S. Academics. “We can’t thank Ginny, and all the people who contributed to this project, enough for their generosity. This is a game-changer for us and is something that will benefit our student-athletes greatly moving forward.”
The new facility provides support for academic needs such as tutoring rooms, study areas and a computer lab, along with other student-athlete amenities. The functional space within the building allows student-athletes and academic staff to operate at a level they have not been able to in the past. It improves the student-athlete experience by providing a place for study, meeting with counselors and receiving academic support. The center is located on the south side of Enke Drive and maintains close proximity to McKale Center locker rooms, coaches and administration.
“This gift builds on Ginny’s existing legacy of extraordinary commitment as a philanthropist and volunteer leader at the UA and throughout the Tucson community,” said John-Paul Roczniak, president and CEO of the University of Arizona Foundation. “Her investment in the academic well-being of student-athletes will change individual lives and will elevate the excellence of both Arizona Athletics and the University as a whole.”
The Clements Academic Center houses life skills, sports psychology and personal-development services as well as the C.A.T.S. Academics staff, which is made up of 14 full-time staff members, including six academic counselors, five learning specialists and administrative staff. In addition, the full-time academic staff is supplemented by six part-time assistant learning specialists and approximately 60 student tutors/mentors. C.A.T.S. Academics facilitates approximately 800 academic appointments each week, and the new facility helps to increase the value and effectiveness of these appointments.
Arizona Athletics receives no state appropriations but does receive 315 tuition waivers annually, authorized by the Arizona Board of Regents. Tuition waivers also are granted to Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University. The athletics department is responsible for the cost of room, board and books to supplement the tuition waivers and is responsible for generating revenues to cover the department’s annual operating costs and budgetary obligations. Additionally, all funds required for new facilities and renovations are provided through the continued support and generosity of athletics department ticket buyers and donors.
Clements’ gift brings the UA closer to its $1.5 billion goal for Arizona NOW: The Campaign for the University of Arizona. Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of approximately 100,000 campaign donors, the UA is well within reach of surpassing Arizona NOW’s fundraising goal ahead of schedule.