Senior social work major Jackie Davis calls being named a recipient of the College of Public Affairs and Community Service's William A. Luker Award for Student Involvement the highlight of his college career. Davis, who rotated through 12 foster homes and shelters before being adopted at age 13, says the award signaled his UNT family's commitment to his success.
"To know that you are surrounded by caring and dedicated faculty and lifted up by alumni and donors you may never meet, it's humbling," he says. "Thank you just doesn't seem sufficient."
As a founding member and president of Persevere UNTil Success Happens (PUSH), a student organization that provides support to foster care alumni seeking a college education, Davis says he looks forward to when he can give back to help others succeed.
"The remarkable opportunities afforded to me at UNT have changed my life," he says.
Davis and thousands of UNT students like him benefited from support raised during The Campaign for UNT, which concluded Aug. 31 and raised more than $210 million. This kind of support helps students in a powerful way, making higher education a reality. As graduates, they go on to help change the world.
"So many individuals deserve our deepest gratitude for their commitment to philanthropy in support of education and for making the dreams of so many students and their families come true," UNT President Neal Smatresk says.
Smatresk, his wife, Debbie, and campaign leaders hosted the university's top donors and community advocates Dec. 6 for "A Season of Gratitude," an event to celebrate the campaign's success.
Bolstered by more than 37,000 generous donors, The Campaign for UNT is the university's most successful fundraising campaign to date. By the close of the campaign, UNT had exceeded its original goal of $200 million, building support for scholarships, fellowships, innovative programs and cutting-edge research. Led by campaign co-chairs Janet ('14) and Frank Bracken ('63), Gayle Strange ('67) and UNT System Board of Regents Chair G. Brint Ryan ('88, '88 M.S.), more than 100 dedicated volunteers championed UNT's fundraising effort.
"This was our chance to make new learning opportunities, state-of-the-art facilities and scholarship support available to UNT's future generations," Ryan says.
The Campaign for UNT focused on three main goals: supporting students and programs; engaging more alumni and friends in the life of the university; and strengthening the university's culture of philanthropy. Gifts to the campaign came from all 50 states and supported a wide array of initiatives such as the Emerald Eagle Scholars program, student affairs, financial aid, the UNT Alumni Association and UNT Athletics.
The campaign made notable accomplishments related to the university's growing philanthropic culture. Individuals making their first ever gift to UNT comprised 65 percent of campaign donors, and faculty and staff also gave back to the university in record numbers. Matching gift opportunities, the Texas Research Incentive Program and the We Care We Count Faculty and Staff Giving Campaign helped leverage additional and new commitments.
For senior Kathryn Krevo, an Honors College student studying public relations and fashion merchandising, the success of the campaign can be summed up simply: "It's an overwhelming example of how caring and generous the UNT family can be."
Fueled by thousands of donors who responded with extraordinary generosity, The Campaign for UNT's key successes galvanized UNT's future momentum and growth.
First-time UNT Donors
Sixty-five percent of campaign donors were making their first gift commitment to UNT.
Their gifts promoted student and faculty achievements in research and creative activity, accelerated UNT's areas of excellence and made a college education possible for future generations of students.
Student Scholarship Commitments
The Campaign for UNT bolstered critical support for undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships and student-athlete scholarships. Of the 230 endowments established during the campaign, 202 directly benefit students, keeping UNT affordable and accessible to dedicated and deserving future Eagles.
A record number of alumni and friends connected with the university during the campaign -- participating in networking events, joining the UNT Alumni Association, mentoring students and working with the UNT Career Center to hire promising graduates. The Campaign for UNT re-energized university pride, laying a foundation for ongoing spirit and fundraising success.
Matching Gift Opportunities
Thanks to generous donors and key initiatives like the Texas Research Incentive Program, UNT secured important new gifts and commitments as a result of matching gift opportunities. Matching gift programs magnify the impact of gifts by providing additional support toward the donor's intent.
Planned Gift Commitments
Planned gifts, which include bequests, gifts of insurance, charitable trusts and gift annuities, enable donors to establish a legacy for future generations of students. During The Campaign for UNT, more than $69 million was committed through planned gifts.
Stories of Impact
The Campaign for UNT not only built upon the university's culture of philanthropy, but also supported faculty and academic programs with direct impacts for UNT students. Here are just a few examples of how each generous gift has made a difference in the lives of students.
Financial services senior Aaron Presley says he's ready to tackle new horizons thanks to the problem-solving and leadership skills he has gained at UNT. Presley, a Terry Scholar, says he believes UNT's support for innovation extends beyond academics and research.
Presley, whose college career has been marked by leadership roles in the Interfraternity Council, the Student Government Association and the Order of Omega Greek Honor Society, says new ideas thrive at UNT because students are "eager to influence the world around them and hard working enough to do what it takes to be successful."
Tabatha Diloreto says without the fellowship support she has received, she would not be pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in ceramics at UNT. Diloreto says she chose the university in part because UNT "offers a remarkably supportive environment for creative people."
From support for unique projects like UNT's Natural Dye Garden to funding for research facilities like the College of Engineering's revolutionary Zero Energy Laboratory, The Campaign for UNT inspired cutting-edge discovery across academic disciplines.
Doctoral student Roberto Aguilar was the first person in his family to complete a college degree. Now, he is researching ways to use nanoparticles to develop non-chemical treatments for cancer and other diseases. Aguilar says as part of the research team working with renowned UNT chemistry professor and Royal Society of Chemistry member Guido Verbeck, he's participating in the kind of cross-disciplinary, cutting-edge nanotechnology research that's "sure to change the world."
"Funding from donors makes it possible for me to focus on my work without worrying about my finances," he says. "That's a great relief, and it frees me to work harder and more creatively."
Mechanical and energy engineering junior Sarah Pena says UNT's unique combination of world-class faculty mentors, leadership opportunities and high-quality academic programs makes it "a university where students are encouraged to be their best -- by the best."
The Campaign for UNT supported many of the university's top facilities and initiatives including the Business Leadership Building, the Greek Life Center and UNT Athletics' Mean Green Village. Special collections in the UNT libraries also were enhanced thanks to gifts to the campaign.
Mean Green Spirit
Mean Green volleyball standout and medical laboratory sciences senior Hanna Forst says her scholarship means being able to represent the university as a student-athlete. She defines Mean Green spirit as "fans and students supporting each other in every aspect of UNT." The Campaign for UNT has reinvigorated the Mean Green spirit at UNT, which has more than 400 student organizations, 16 varsity sports and a growing alumni association.
Increased student philanthropic activity, increased faculty and staff contributions and the endowment of faculty positions honoring former professors demonstrate the Mean Green Spirit of the UNT family.