ASU Foundation: a rich history

1883 — a gift of land

When Judge Charles Trumbull Hayden was first lobbying the Arizona state legislature for a normal school, he knew that his chances would improve if the land for the proposed school was a gift to the territory. The land he wanted belonged to pioneer George Washington Wilson, a Tempe butcher. Wilson agreed to sell five acres to Hayden and his support group for $100 an acre—and then Wilson gifted his remaining 15 acres to the new school.


1947–1955 — laying the groundwork

A group of Valley cattlemen and farmers established the Agricultural Advisory Council in 1947. The original organization was formed to help President Grady Gammage acquire land adjacent to the Tempe campus and to hold it until the Arizona Board of Regents could purchase the property. Members of the original council purchased almost 400 acres during the post-World War II years — about half of main campus.


1955–1960 — expanding the partnership

The Arizona State College Foundation was incorporated in 1955 to broaden the mission of the Agricultural Advisory Council. Now called the ASU Foundation Board of Directors, the board was instrumental in raising support for all educational areas. During these years, the ASU Foundation:

  • Committed $350,000 to purchase the 320-acre Jones Farm in 1956 (now ASU Research Park).
  • Committed $115,000 in 1957 to purchase land north of the college for a new stadium.
  • Recruited Daniel E. Noble to the Board in 1958, securing a pledge of $150,000 from Motorola to support engineering.
  • Purchased the Nininger Meteorite Collection with support from the National Science Foundation.
  • Provided equipment funding to launch KAET-Channel 8.
  • Led the public effort to pass Proposition 200, which turned Arizona State College into Arizona State University in 1958.


1961–1979 — building relationships

During the 1960s and 1970s, the ASU Foundation continued to raise funds to support a broad range of university initiatives, including:

  • Funding to support the construction of Hayden Library and the ASU College of Law.
  • Funding to finance and build Packard Stadium.
  • Establishing a pooled income fund and life annuity to launch a gift planning program for ASU.
  • Receiving and managing Castle Hot Springs, a 165-acre resort property gifted by Dr. Mae Sue Talley, which would ultimately provide the foundation with $3 million to start an endowment.


1980–1989 — the Centennial Campaign for ASU

The growing needs of the university caused the foundation to begin planning for ASU's first comprehensive campaign in the early 1980s. This community-wide effort expanded the role of the foundation to include identifying major gift prospects and ensuring that the assets of the foundation were managed to maximize returns and protect investments.

Under the leadership of ASU President Russell Nelson and ASU Foundation board members Katherine K. ("Kax") Herberger, Budd Peabody and Bob Bulla, the Centennial Campaign for ASU raised more than $114 million for ASU and increased foundation assets from $3.1 million to $28.5 million.

Other highlights of the campaign included:

  • Lead gift of $2 million to establish Karsten Golf Course, a $6 million capital investment.
  • The Sundome Performing Arts Center from Del E. Webb Corporation.
  • More than $30 million in land and construction funds, including the Nelson Fine Arts Center on Main Campus and the Sands Classroom Building and Fletcher Library at ASU West.
  • More than $12 million in new scholarship funding.
  • The Robert B. Dalton Endowed Chair in Cancer Research in addition to almost $10 million in other endowed faculty positions.


1990–1994 — preparing for the next campaign

A number of precedent-setting gifts were received by the foundation in the early years of the decade, including the largest cash donation in ASU's history. The $4 million gift from Del E. Webb Foundation was used to endow and name the School of Construction. Other notable gifts included: 

  • $1.5 million from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for undergraduate research in biology.
  • Completion of $1 million gift from PepsiCo to fund the PepsiCo Scholars program for MBA students.
  • $340,000 gift from the G. Robert Herberger Fund to support the Herberger Center for Design Excellence.
  • $500,000 gift from Virginia M. Ullman for a professorship in ecology.

The growing community support caused the ASU Foundation to adopt a new strategic plan in 1992 with two critical goals — increasing the foundation's endowment funds to a minimum of $75 million by 2000 and launching ASU's second fund-raising campaign, the ASU Campaign for Leadership.


1995–2001 — The ASU Campaign for Leadership

In the fall of 1994, the ASU Foundation board and ASU President Lattie Coor tested the waters for ASU's second, comprehensive campaign. Its fundraising goals were to encompass all academic units of the university, as well as athletics and universitywide objectives.

Campaign priorities were grouped into three broad categories: Great Teachers, Great Students and Great Communities, with new and augmented endowments being an across-the-board goal. The original dollar goal was $300 million — later changed to $400 million. At the close of this campaign, total gifts and pledges exceeded $560 million.

This total included:

  • Nearly $82 million for faculty support, including 37 chairs and 47 professorships;
  • Almost $97 million for 86 graduate fellowships and 372 scholarship funds; and
  • $382 million for general and special projects to build "great communities."

And, by the end of FY 2001, the ASU endowment had grown to $207 million.

Walter and Betsy Cronkite were the campaign's honorary national chairs. Ed and Nadine Carson and Dick and Dinky Snell co-chaired the national campaign.


2002–2011 — A New American University

In 2002, Michael M. Crow became the 16th president of ASU. He set out to transform ASU into a national model for a New American University. This model derives from design imperatives that stress student success, the social relevance of university teaching and research, a focus on the university's local setting within a global context, interdisciplinary collaboration, and entrepreneurship.

During this period of reinvention and change (July 2002 through June 2011), ASU raised more than $117.5 million in gifts and new pledges for scholarships, nearly $65.8 million for faculty positions, and another $92.8 million for capital projects. Some of these commitments include:

  • A $50 million gift to name the W.P. Carey School of Business
  • A $50 million pledge to name the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering
  • Commitments totaling over $15 million from Julie A. Wrigley to the Global Institute of Sustainability
  • Nearly $50 million from Siemens PLM Software to the Fulton School of Engineering
  • A pledge of more than $18 million to the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College from T. Denny Sanford.

In early 2010, the Trustees of the ASU Foundation reformed as the Trustees of ASU. Their purpose is to drive forward the strategic vision of Arizona State University as a New American University. The Trustees of ASU will further the goals of ASU as a catalyst and change agent for innovation, educational advancement, and socio-economic development across the valley, state, nation and world through personal networks, philanthropic contributions, and strategic advocacy.


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