More than $11 million in private gifts announced

Thirteen private gifts totaling more than $11 million for the University of Illinois' Urbana campus were announced Friday, supporting student scholarships, faculty positions and academic programs.

Among them is a deferred seven-figure gift to create the Robert O. Endres Professor in Cinema Studies at the University Library, named for the donor who was head projectionist at Radio City Music Hall for 25 years and an authority on old movie theaters. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and a master's degree in radio and television from the UI.

Other gifts include:

— Donations from Milton Hieken and Barbara Barenholtz Hieken of Clayton, Mo., to promote academic excellence in the College of Engineering. Milton Hieken has a UI engineering degree and a 41-year career with McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing).

— A $1 million gift from Chris and Kathy Perry of Winnetka to fund four-year scholarships for undergraduates in the College of Business. Chris Perry, a partner at a Chicago private-equity firm, has an accountancy degree from the UI.

— A $1 million gift from Carl Vacketta of Washington to establish a scholarship in his name in the College of Law. Preference will be given to students from his high school, Westville, as well as other qualified candidates from Vermilion County. Vacketta, an expert in government contract law, earned two law degrees at the UI.

— Gifts exceeding seven figures from Kenneth "K.T." and Betty Wright of Blandinsville to support three UI units. The money will support expansion at the College of Veterinary Medicine, establish a scholarship for first-year vet med students and support swine medicine and research; create the Byron and Wilma Wright Memorial Scholarship and support the library in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences; and establish the Byron Wright Memorial Football Scholarship to help student-athletes on the UI football team. K.T. Wright earned two degrees in veterinary medicine at the UI.

—Two seven-figure gifts from Ron Fark and John Wormley of Providence, R.I., to support the University Library and endow a study-abroad scholarship for students in the School of Architecture in the College of Fine and Applied Arts. Fark, a retired university librarian, earned UI degrees in political science and library science. Wormley, a real estate design professional, received a bachelor's degree in architectural studies at the UI and was a member of the School of Architecture's first Versailles (France) Study Abroad Program.

— Gifts in excess of $700,000 from Saul Morse and Anne Morgan of Springfield, for a professorship in their names in Applied Health Sciences to address issues related to health, aging and disability. Morse, a lawyer, is a UI history and law graduate, and Morgan is a retired clinical psychologist who founded the Health Care Psychology Department at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield.

— A gift of $700,000 from David Ginn and Richard Stevens of Jamaica Plain, Mass., to create student scholarships in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Ginn, a medical librarian, received a bachelor's degree and a master's in library science from the UI. Stevens earned a master's degree from the UI Chicago's School of Public Health.

— A $750,000 gift from Clarence Klaus Jr. of Butler, Pa., will provide support to the School of Architecture and Allerton Park in Monticello to increase educational opportunities for architecture students and enhance academic excellence. The money will provide need-based scholarships and support and promote Allerton Park. Klaus, a retired architect, earned a bachelor's degree in architecture from the UI.

— A seven-figure gift from Norman Whitten Jr. of Urbana to support the Dorothea S. and Norman E. Whitten Gallery of South American Peoples, and fund travel opportunities for graduate students conducting field research and support fellowships in the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Whitten is a UI professor emeritus of anthropology and Latin American studies. His late wife Dorothea was an adjunct curator at the Spurlock Museum and a research associate at the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

— A seven-figure gift from Mary Sue Divan Murray of Fremont, Calif., to create an endowed professorship in the Department of Theatre and support theatrical productions that are open to all undergraduate students on campus. Murray, a retired high school drama/English teacher, attended summer theater programs on campus as a high school student and was active in theater as an undergraduate at Illinois.

— A major gift from Catherine Key of Charleston to create the Carmela Toffolo Key and Charley C. Key Lincoln Hall Scholarship Fund, providing scholarships for humanities students. Catherine Key earned two degrees at Illinois before working for community youth organizations in Chicago and New York, serving as cultural director of the Vietnamese-American Society for the U.S. Information Agency in Vietnam, and teaching at Elmhurst College.

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vcponsardin wrote on September 29, 2012 at 10:09 am
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One sign of good administration is the ability of university leaders to not only attract donations (that's not so hard), but to direct those donations toward meaningful and appropriate uses (significantly harder).  The U of I hasn't had much trouble attracting donations over the years (for a state school), but they have had some notable trouble getting those donors to give to the right and appropriate things.  Too often, donors want vanity memorials to themselves in the form of bricks and mortar, with the result that millions are wasted building pointless bell towers and welcoming centers, etc., when that money could be better spent on scholarships and endowed chairs, for instance--things that will actually have a long lasting and positive influence on the quality of education.  Good administrators know how to get donors to donate appropriately.  Poor adminstrators accept gifts for anything as long as the donation totals looks good on paper at the end of the year.