Campus: Fresno State - March 9, 2007

Inland California innovation sparked by Fresno State successes
University’s fundraising campaign hits $50-million milestone

California State University, Fresno is attracting an unparalleled level of private gifts to support academic excellence at the university, including a $2 million gift last month from world aerospace leader Boeing to support a new engineering honors program.

Over the past 90 days alone, Fresno State has recorded $14.5 million in giving. And university leaders say other major gifts are on the horizon. As the support flows into the university, academic programs grow and Fresno State students receive a world-class education.

The university received a $10 million gift from Table Mountain Rancheria to support a major expansion under way at the Henry Madden Library. The library will become the largest academic library between Sacramento and Los Angeles, with room for 2 million volumes.

Fresno State’s Craig School of Business received a $1.5 million endowment from philanthropists Arnold and Dianne Gazarian to create a Real Estate Center to trace the dynamic changes in rapidly growing Central California.

Fresno State President John D. Welty said, “The demonstration of support by private individuals and corporations to the university is inspiring,” noting that the Table Mountain Rancheria gift is the single largest cash gift in the nearly 100-year history of Fresno State.

Fresno Bee columnist Bill McEwen hailed the Boeing Company’s $2 million gift to Fresno State, saying, “When vision, competence and a love of learning intersect, it's a beautiful thing. … A big gift from a big company providing four-year, full-tuition scholarships is reason to celebrate.”

In a town better known for farming than flying, the Boeing Company gift is attracting national attention. Boeing’s $2 million endowment creates the Husband-Boeing Honors Scholars Program in Engineering. The program honors a Fresno State alumnus, Air Force Col. Rick Husband, who was the mission commander of the space shuttle Columbia, which was lost with all her crew upon return to Earth four years ago.

Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, said the aerospace giant chose to support Fresno State’s College of Engineering to inspire and attract new engineers from the culturally diverse communities in Central California.

Welty said the recent major gifts support academic excellence and research at Central California’s largest university.

“This is critically important since the area of our state known as the New California, with Fresno State at its heart, is growing four times faster than the rest of California and now is home to about 9 million people – 30 percent of the state's total population,” Welty said.

By 2050, more than 21 million people – 38 percent of the state's residents – will live in inland California, according to U.S. Census projections.

Welty said the inflow of major gifts helps Fresno State conduct the research and provide the educational services that develop job-ready students and enable regional leaders and institutions to innovate and pursue fresh approaches that transform the region.

Fresno State alumnus Sam Iacobellis, recognized as one of America’s aviation technology pioneers, was instrumental in working with Boeing to create Fresno State’s engineering honors program.

Iacobellis was aware of his colleague Albaugh’s deep concern about the declining number of American university graduates each year in engineering and sciences. Iacobellis also knew that Fresno State would be the right place to invest in the future.

Iacobellis, a 1952 mechanical engineering graduate of Fresno State, said, “I know the difference this university can make in a young person’s life. The Husband-Boeing Honors Scholars Program will encourage bright young people, who often come from tough backgrounds, to go on to achieve great things in engineering.”

Iacobellis went from working on his parents’ ranch in rural Fresno County to earning a bachelor’s degree at Fresno State. At Rockwell, he became the “Father of the B1-B” the Air Force’s premier strategic bomber. He served as executive vice president and deputy chairman of major programs at Rockwell International and as president of Rockwell’s North American Aviation Operations.

Mary Anna Dunn, the university’s associate vice president of development, said the major gifts coming to Fresno State are part of a universitywide campaign to build public support in the region.

“The university is undertaking a fundraising campaign, now in the beginning stages, to help the university build the academic firepower needed to meet the demands of the burgeoning Central California area,” she said.

“People like the Gazarians, the leadership at Boeing and Table Mountain Rancheria help ensure that Fresno State is able to do its vital work,” Dunn said. “These gifts are important because they set a wonderful example about how involved and caring people can team up with the university to accomplish great things.”

Dunn said the fundraising campaign for Fresno State will be formally announced to the public in 2008, but that these early gifts are indications of the university’s growing success in attracting philanthropic support.

“There are other very exciting gifts that we will be able to announce soon,” Dunn said. “It’s heartening to see people get involved so early in the campaign.”

Prior to her work at Fresno State, Dunn led a highly successful $1 billion fundraising effort at the University of Colorado.

Bud and Jan Richter, community and university benefactors for more than 60 years, were named last year as co-chairs of the Campaign for Fresno State.

“The Campaign has quietly raised $29 million in its first year alone,” said Bud Richter. “We are very encouraged about the support that’s being shown to the university. People see that Fresno State is at the heart of so many positive things happening here, and they see great potential for the future.”

The Richters’ successful Fresno-based soft-drink bottling business has allowed them to generously help Fresno State and the greater community.

“I’m sensing an incredible level of interest and excitement as people consider the changes under way in what many people are calling The New California,” Richter said. “We have a wonderful opportunity to transform this place, and people are willing to invest in the university to make that happen.”

Bud Richter is a past-president of the Bulldog Foundation and was a Bulldog Stadium Steering Committee member. Jan Richter helped found the Women’s Bulldog Foundation.

President Welty said Fresno State is making rapid progress on increasing the excellence of its academic programs. It is working toward three new doctoral programs this year, in criminal justice sciences, physical therapy and educational leadership.

The university just received a new Carnegie Foundation classification as an “engaged university,” in recognition of its successful efforts in research and education that benefit the region.

Fresno State also is known nationwide for its programs in business, teacher training, entrepreneurship and new business creation, viticulture and enology, and water technology.

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