A Wondrous Effort

UArizona Heralds Gifts Toward $3 Billion Fuel Wonder Campaign

By Tom Leyde

The University of Arizona shined a spotlight on its ambitious $3 billion Fuel Wonder fundraising campaign on Nov.3 by announcing more than $118 million in gifts toward the effort.

At the Bear Down Building, the heart of the school’s Student Success District, school officials announced that the campaign has raised $2,040,735,512–roughly 70% of the goal, with the campaign’s public phase to commence.

“There are so many exciting things to report about this campaign,” said UArizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins. “This is going to be absolutely transformational for the university,” he said of the school’s largest fundraising effort to date.

The campaign launched Jan. 1, 2017, when Robbins became university president. He quickly initiated a strategic planning process to guide UArizona’s future.

“I want to thank so many people who have made this possible,” he said. “We’re already two-thirds to our target with over $2 billion already raised. … The people who love this university, whether they went to the University of Arizona or not, are giving because they believe in this place, and they want to invest in the future of our students, our staff and faculty and the infrastructure to do the research that needs to be done.”

Successes to date include the naming of three colleges: the James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences, the W.A. Franke Honors College and the R. Ken Coit College of Pharmacy.

Three capital projects have moved forward thanks to donor investment: the Student Success District, the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine and the William M. “Bill” Clements Golf Center. Also, a significant contribution from the Steele Foundation, led by Marianne Cracchiolo Mago, marked the first philanthropic support for the Center for Advanced Molecular and Immunological Therapies.

The generosity of alumni and friends has also resulted in the six highest endowment giving years in the university’s history. A six-year total of $423.7 million accounts for 35% of the total endowment under management as of June 30. The university’s endowment is valued at $1.2 billion, and gifts to it support the donors’ chosen priority areas in perpetuity.

Moderating the event was Alex Flanagan (Class of 1993), who has worked for ESPN, Fox Sports, NFL Network and NBC Sports.

Co-chairing Fuel Wonder are Terry Lundgren (Class of 1975), retired chairman and CEO of Macy’s Inc., and Marianne-Cracchiolo Mago (Class of 1993), president and CEO of the Steele Foundation.

“I took on this role to give back to a campus that really did change my family’s life,” Mago said. 

Her father, Daniel Cracchiolo, who died in 2022, graduated from the UArizona with a law degree. He went on to found the Steele Foundation, whose goal is to improve the lives of children in Arizona through education.

“I couldn’t think of a better way to honor our foundation. I’m really honored to be here,” Mago said.

To honor her father, the Steele Foundation has made a $10 million grant to create the Daniel Cracchiolo Institute for Pediatric Autoimmune Disease Research at the University. 

After the institute is established in Tucson, a second institute will open in Phoenix at the Center for Advanced Molecular and Immunological Therapies. “After COVID, especially, it’s perfect timing for us and we are really thrilled,” Mago said.

“I wanted to be a small part of this vision that Bobby (Robbins) had to bring this university and its students and faculty to the next level,” added Lundgren.

Macy’s, he said, has hired hundreds of UArizona students. “It’s a good place to come to find people who are interested in our industry.” The company is supporting a collaboration between the Eller College of Management and the Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing and has launched a retail innovation lab.

“Hopefully we’ll find some insights that we can share with retailers about what drives purchasing behavior of 20-year-olds. …” Lundgren said. “With investments through the Fuel Wonder campaign, we hope to educate our students and expose them to business leaders … and ultimately prepare them for an exciting career.”

“Every gift we have received since Jan. 1, 2017, is part of Fuel Wonder,” said JP Roczniak, president and CEO of the University of Arizona Foundation, in a news release. “You can see from the gifts we are announcing the range of causes that are meaningful to our alumni and friends. … The ongoing charitable support of annual donors has a huge impact on campus programs as well.”

“I will remind everyone,” Robbins added, “that we still have $1 billion to go (to hit the campaign goal). “Seeing what has already been done it’s going to inspire others because they want to be part of a winning team. … I would love to hit the $4 billion mark,” he said.

A list of philanthropic donations to the Fuel Wonder campaign:

Fueling the Wildcat Journey

Scholarships and student success, part of the Wildcat Journey pillar of the university’s strategic plan, are among the campaign’s top priorities. New gifts totaling $27.35 million were announced at the launch.

  • Patricia and Bruce Bartlett, former educators and longtime university supporters, are among the most generous donors to the university, including multiple commitments during the Fuel Wonder campaign. A recent $2.5 million gift to the Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques Center has endowed the center’s executive director position and will further the work of Bartlett Labs — a multidisciplinary research initiative.
  • The Baird Foundation has donated $5.7 million to create the Baird Scholars Fund. The foundation has supported University of Arizona students for decades, giving over $15 million cumulatively. These scholarships are granted to six outstanding students from Arizona high schools, supporting them throughout their four-year academic journey. The university hopes to grow the impact of the Baird Scholars Fund through annual fundraising toward this endowment.
  • Jim and Vicki Click, longtime supporters and champions of the UArizona Adaptive Athletics Program, have committed a $6.5 million gift, adding to their previous investments in the program. This gift will allow the program to recruit elite athletes well into the future.
  • John Lee Compton has committed $3.2 million to benefit students in the W.A. Franke Honors College. The gift from Compton, a biotech industry executive, will establish the Compton Lab of Discovery and Innovation, Endowed Compton Chair for Creative Intelligence and Innovation, and the Compton Fund for Exploration. A longtime volunteer who has worked with many honors students on their research projects, Compton is an advocate for creative inquiry and aims to create a safety net for students who want to take informed risks with their projects.
  • John and Adrienne Mars have given to benefit both students and research at the university. A $2 million gift to the College of Science supports scholarships and exploration of research, majors and careers for first-year students. They have long been involved with the College of Science.
  • A Wildcat family that asked not to be named has contributed $7.45 million for two student-centered efforts. A total of $1.5 million will support Destination Arizona — a university initiative designed to warmly welcome all new students to campus before classes begin while fostering inclusivity and a sense of community among Wildcats. A gift of $5.95 million supports Arizona Athletics, specifically aiding the 5980 Fund and C.A.T.S. Academics. 

Fueling knowledge discovery and teaching

Students want to learn from the best in the field and be part of a university at the forefront of research across disciplines. Funding for endowed faculty positions that help recruitment and retention efforts are a key campaign priority. Gifts totaling $36.5 million were announced.

  • Alumni Michael and Sheri Hummel, both Class of 1982, have committed $5 million to benefit the Cancer Engineering Initiative, a program being jointly implemented at the College of Engineering and the University of Arizona Cancer Center. The initiative aims to create humanlike cancer models and growth environments to help improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Their gift also supports gynecological cancer research at the College of Medicine — Tucson.
  • Humberto and Czarina Lopez have contributed $18 million across multiple university causes during the Fuel Wonder campaign. Humberto Lopez is a member of the Eller College of Management Class of 1969. The Lopezes’ most recent gifts, including $9 million to the Eller College to name the HS Lopez School of Business Analytics, will enhance business analytics education through faculty and research endowments, and a program endowment. They also committed $8 million to the College of Medicine — Tucson, with one of their gifts establishing the Iovanna C. Lopez Endowed Deanship, named in honor of their daughter.
  • In addition to their support of students at the College of Science, John and Adrienne Mars have designated another $2 million gift to benefit agrivoltaics research at Biosphere 2. Agrivoltaics is the concept of co-locating agriculture with solar panels as a potential solution to challenges around food, energy and water.
  • The Waverley Street Foundation, which aims to advance climate solutions grounded in the day-to-day lives of people and communities, has made a $2 million gift for the Indigenous Resilience Center, housed under the university’s Research, Innovation & Impact office and headed by professor Karletta Chief (who is Diné, or Navajo).
  • A Wildcat family wishing to remain anonymous has committed $6 million to the Eller College of Management and its Department of Finance. The gift creates three endowed chairs. An additional $500,000 supports the Eller Partnerships office. 
  • A $4 million gift from a couple wishing to give anonymously established an endowed prize for an Endowed Postdoctoral Research Associate in Climate Change and Human Resiliency, awarded through the university’s Research, Innovation & Impact office. The funding will support multiple postdoctoral researchers over the coming years, each serving in their position for two years.

Fueling community

Arizona Public Media, an editorially independent, not-for-profit service of the University of Arizona, recently announced a capital campaign for the Paul and Alice Baker Center for Public Media at the University of Arizona Tech Park at The Bridges. AZPM announced that $54.8 million has been raised or pledged for the building project, which will break ground in February 2024. AZPM has $10.2 million left to raise to reach its $65 million goal. 

With the new, donor-financed building, Southern Arizona will finally have a state-of-the-art public media home, replacing the current cramped and technologically outdated studios located in the basement of the Modern Languages building on the UArizona campus. The new facility is designed as a public square, a convening place for public debates, presentations, screenings and events for generations to come.

Other gifts and commitments, totaling $30.3 million, include support from:

  • Paul and Alice Baker
  • Mona Kreaden and Paul Lipton
  • The George Mason Green and Lois C. Green Foundation
  • The Milton and Tamar Maltz Family Foundation
  • Ellen Kaye

The total raised also includes $24.5 million in realized estate gifts that were designated for AZPM. “These gifts make up the literal foundation of a building that will ensure the future of public media in Tucson for generations to come,” said Jack Gibson, CEO of AZPM. “We look forward to recognizing these gifts in a place of honor in the new building.”

Pictured above – University of Arizona Tech Park at the Bridges
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