A Message from Foundation President & CEO John-Paul Roczniak

April 3, 2024

Dear Alumni, Donors and Friends,

Over the last several months, the University of Arizona has been in the news locally and regionally. At times, giving and the endowment have come up in ways that suggest there are misconceptions in the community about how the University of Arizona Foundation works. I’m writing to you today to share information about the Foundation – what we do and how we work – because I am proud of the role we play in the success of the University of Arizona, and hope you will be, too.

The University of Arizona Foundation was founded in 1958 with a simple mission: to advance the University by securing philanthropic support and managing assets, including the endowment. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Foundation is governed by a volunteer Board of Trustees made up of alumni, donors and University leaders.

Through an agreement with the University, the University of Arizona Foundation manages fundraising, asset management, and, since 2020, alumni engagement for the institution. This means collaborating with campus to produce events including Homecoming, publication of the Arizona Alumni magazine, and providing services campus can access, such as gift planning, charitable grant seeking, and annual giving, including the student calling program, crowdfunding platform and direct mail appeals. Development officers based in colleges work to build relationships with alumni and friends of the University who see their philanthropic support of the University as a way to pay it forward or to bring positive change into the world.

Gifts to the University of Arizona Foundation for the benefit of the University can only be used for the purpose designated by the donor. Donor funds cannot be “swept” and redirected by campus administration. The University is a big enterprise, representing areas as diverse as scholarships and student success, basic science, the arts, community outreach, athletics and so much more. The Foundation maintains about 5,600 fund accounts for over 200 programs! During 2022-2023, less than 1% of new gifts went to unrestricted purposes, and those who have multiple passions on campus make multiple gifts designated to the specific areas they intend to support.

The Foundation’s operating budget comes in part from a gift fee assessed at the direction of the University. This 6% fee applies to gifts of $1,000 or more, and supports development efforts at the Foundation, the president’s office and the college/unit benefitting from that gift. These funds help cover expenses associated with fundraising such as gift processing and tax receipting, fund administration and development activities. Occasionally, the Foundation has surplus budget, and when that happens, the Foundation invests those funds in the University. Some examples of investments made are funding scholarships, offering research grants for early-career faculty, purchasing building space to help the University expand its presence in Scottsdale, contributing to faculty endowments such as the Dr. Thomas Meixner Professorship, and helping meet the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute’s matching challenge for its affiliate institute at the University of Arizona.

The Foundation also manages the University’s $1.2 billion endowment. When donors choose to make an endowed gift, they aim to support their cause of choice in perpetuity. The Foundation’s goal is to maintain intergenerational equity in returns and payout, so future generations get the same benefit as the current generation. I am so proud of how much the endowment has grown. Over the last six years, donors gave $423.6 million in new endowed gifts to their areas of interest on campus. That’s 35% of the total endowment under management! This success has allowed the Foundation to lower the endowment fee from 1.35% to 1%, while increasing the payout from 4% to 4.25% annually.

You may have heard about Fuel Wonder, the Campaign for the University of Arizona. This is a $3 billion fundraising effort focused on student success, including those students in the arts and athletics who draw the community to our institutional front porch, and ensuring the University has the best faculty to teach, inspire and drive big research ideas with the power to transform.

The University’s first three campaigns left a mark on campus through landmark facilities such as McClelland Hall and the Thomas W. Keating Bioresearch Building, and the naming of colleges including the Eller College of Management, the James E. Rogers College of Law and the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. Fuel Wonder is nearly three-quarters of the way to goal, and donors have already begun to shape the University’s future through naming gifts including the James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences, W.A. Franke Honors College, R. Ken Coit College of Pharmacy, and many more.

There are donors to the Fuel Wonder campaign who first gave during Century II, the University’s very first campaign from 1981-1992. It’s a testament to the importance the University plays in so many lives. Many of those donors are alumni who care deeply about ensuring the University delivers on its land grant mission, making higher education accessible and affordable to all, and advancing research and outreach that meaningfully improves our communities and the world. Many of these champions support Arizona Athletics right alongside their academic, institutional support – 93% of gifts last year went to areas other than athletics, including research, student financial aid, academic divisions, new and existing endowments and others.

Working in philanthropy is about the long view. It takes time to build meaningful relationships with people, imagine together what could be possible with the right investment, and watch that investment power real change and action. You have likely heard that President Robbins has announced he will step down after fulfilling the terms of his current contract. He has led the University of Arizona for the last seven years, contributing to its 139-year history of being a launchpad for careers, a research powerhouse and an outreach engine for our state. That will continue into its next hundred years and beyond, and I look forward to working with the next president to continue advancing this great institution.

It’s my life’s privilege to work with you, our donor community. I’m as grateful to those making their first gift as I am towards those who have been giving for decades – because those new donors are going to be here in 20, 30 years, long after I’ve stepped down, deeply connected to this incredible place that changes lives and inspires awe in its research accomplishments.

Thank you, and Bear Down.


John-Paul Roczniak

President & CEO

University of Arizona Foundation


Vice President of Development and Alumni Engagement and Chief Development Officer

The University of Arizona