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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Private donors a vital necessity to the health of the UA

    Donald Soldwedel earned a degree in marketing from the UA in 1946 and graded economics papers for Richard Harvill before Harvill became UA president in 1951.

    He also worked as a staff member for the Associated Students of the University of Arizona and was the first business manager of the first student union when it was constructed in 1951.

    Yet when he graduated, donating money to the UA was the last thing on his mind. He never thought that at 81 years old, he would have given gifts to the Eller Graduate School, provided money for journalism scholarships and supported the UA Cancer Center.

    But when he put in his first modest donation of $50 to the UA in 1972, it started 35 years of constant giving to his alma

    mater.

    As dollars appropriated to the UA from the state today total $390 million, 22.3 percent

    Generally, younger alumni grow up
    knowing that they will have a college
    education, and older alumni feel like their years at the university were a gift, so they feel committed to giving back.

    – Donna Morton, manager of the annual fund for the UA Foundation

    of the university’s overall expenditure budget, the UA relies on private donations like Soldwedel’s.

    In fiscal year 2005-2006, donors contributed more than $121 million to the UA, according to the UA Foundation.

    John Brown, the foundation’s communications director, said that if you look at all the campaigns and initiatives on campus, all of them have great support from alumni.

    Soldwedel chairs a $1.8 million initiative to bring two Parkinson’s disease researchers to the UA College of Medicine. “”I was interested in helping the university wherever I could,”” Soldwedel said. “”My wife and I stand behind all of the gifts we have ever given.””

    Luda Soldwedel also graduated from the UA in 1946 with a degree in Spanish and, with Donald, helped create the Writing Center.

    Though alumni have long supported the UA financially, the process of contacting and encouraging old and new alumni to give to the UA is another task.

    Soldwedel said that staying in touch with the university, especially with regard to new projects, helped him to pick and choose what parts of the campus needed his help.

    “”There are so many great projects around campus,”” he said. “”Wherever you look, you can find something that is deserving of giving (to).””

    Craig Haubrich, the membership director of the UA Alumni Association, said one of the association’s main goals is to keep alumni connected with the university by providing an alumni network and programs that help them stay connected.

    “”We try to touch their emotional side,”” Haubrich said. “”When we start a campaign, we try to bring up different events from a particular college that they were a part of and get them to understand why their

    support makes a difference.””

    Sometimes, however, it is difficult for alumni, especially new ones, to give. Donna Morton, manager of the annual fund for the UA Foundation, said it is harder to encourage younger alumni than older alumni to give because they don’t look at the university experience the same way as older alumni.

    “”Generally, younger alumni grow up knowing that they will have a college education, and older alumni feel like their years at the university were a gift, so they feel committed to giving back,”” Morton said.

    Brown said another challenge in encouraging new alumni to give is that the campus is so large that they didn’t really have a chance to get involved and form ties with many university

    organizations.

    Student initiatives have been created to encourage recent graduates to give.

    At the College of Law, the graduating class has participated in a yearly class gift challenge that raises money for the university. The Class Gift Committee has raised the target amount incrementally from $25,000 in 2001, the challenge’s first year, to $65,000 for 2007, said Nancy Stanley, associate for external relations at the College of Law.

    Stanley said 62 percent of the graduating class have participated and raised about $63,000.

    Matt Clark, co-chair for the Class Gift Committee, said it is important to create a culture of giving back because it helps the university and new students

    coming in.

    “”A lot of people feel good about the education they have and are happy to give back,”” Clark said.

    There is still a chance the students will make their mark, Stanley said, because the challenge will end the day of graduation.

    At the Eller College of Management, two graduating seniors developed the Eller College Senior Class Gift, which is an annual pledge of $10 for five years that graduating seniors can sign up for.

    Soldwedel said students wanting to donate should be careful about who and what they are giving to.

    “”The best decision you know how to make is to help,”” he said.

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