DATE: February 5, 2013
A Gift in the Perfect Moment
In the early 1990s, Winifred "Quiggy" Witt gave a gift to the University of Arizona to construct a courtyard at McClelland Hall, home of the Eller College of Management, in her late husband's name. Sam Witt, who died in 1987, was a local builder and founding member of the Southern Arizona Homebuilders Association.
The courtyard was collegiate and welcoming, with a fountain and gardens. Almost the entire first floor of the Eller College looked onto it, and it quickly became the heart of the building—a place where students could network, study and relax. But after the UA decided to take a more proactive approach on water conservation, the fountain became obsolete. Then several hard freezes during Tucson's winter months destroyed much of the plant life.
In lean budget years and with many competing priorities for funds, the College wasn't yet able to restore the courtyard's beauty. That is, until it received another gift from the Witts. Mrs. Witt passed away in 2010, and a bequest made in her husband's name made restoration possible. The new courtyard is welcoming students again this fall.
"Without this gift, we couldn't have addressed both the fountain and the replanting—it came at the perfect moment," said Merrilee Holmes, director of facilities at the Eller College.
That wasn't the only impact of the Witts' generosity. Their bequest to the UA, which totaled $4.5 million, also established three endowments in the health sciences. One supports UA medical students, another, a faculty member in the College of Medicine, and still another, cancer research at the UA Cancer Center.
"Quiggy suffered from cancer in her lifetime, and she was concerned about cancer research," said Gerald Hirsch, a family friend and attorney to the Witts. "She also was concerned there should be more doctors in the community, so she set up a scholarship fund for medical students. She hoped it would help defray their immediate college costs."
The Witts weren't UA alumni, but quietly supported the Tucson community and the University, Mr. Hirsch added. "They gave a lot of money, but no one ever knew about it," he said.
"They were very generous people."
This article was originally featured in the UA Foundation's Fall 2012 issue of Advancing Arizona.
The University of Arizona Foundation is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to advancing the University of Arizona. Managing an existing asset base of more than $600 million, the UA Foundation has helped generate more than $2 billion in private funding to support the University. Learn more about the Foundation at uafoundation.org.