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Corporate gifts keep students on the cutting edge

corporate gift
About a quarter of all gifts to the University of North Florida come from the corporate community in a typical year. This year, as The Power of Transformation campaign comes to a close, the percentage of corporate gifts is surging, indicating a deeper commitment by the business community.

In the last few months, major corporations with a presence in Northeast Florida have stepped up to make transformational gifts to the University. These philanthropic-minded corporations include Fidelity Information Systems, Florida Blue (formerly Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida), Prudential, Vistakon and Wells Fargo.

Dr. Pierre Allaire, vice president for Institutional Advancement, said corporate giving has played a major role in the success of The Power of Transformation campaign.

“We are thrilled the executives of these corporations see the value of a UNF education,” Allaire said. “The public-private partnership is an invaluable component of our efforts to enhance educational experiences for our students and provide transformational learning opportunities.”

Some of the recent corporate gifts include:

The Fidelity National Financial/Fidelity Information Systems gift of $125,000 will fund scholarships in the Coggin College of Business and the College of Computing, Engineering and Construction. The company will provide $25,000 per year for five years for scholarships in the two colleges. In addition, Fidelity is providing support for the UNF Foundation through the annual board drive.

The company has continued the philanthropic initiatives of its predecessor company, Alltel Financial Services Inc., which established scholarships in the name of David M. Hicks, former president of Computer Power Inc.

Florida Blue’s most recent donation will benefit the Disability Resource Center and the First Generation Scholarship program.

A $40,000 donation will fund UNF’s first named directorship. Dr. Kristine Webb will become the Florida Blue Director of the Disability Resource Center. Webb said it is an honor to add the organization’s name to her title.

“Florida Blue has a long history of supporting community organizations, including those who serve individuals with disabilities. We are proud to be affiliated with them,” she said.

Florida Blue is also making a $35,000 donation to the First Generation Scholarship program. Matched by the state, these scholarships are devoted to students who are the first in their families to attend college.

The most recent donations by Florida Blue are the latest in a series of UNF gifts. In 2002, the health insurer provided a $1 million gift to UNF to establish the the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Florida Center for Ethics, Public Policy and the Professions. In 2006, the company also established a distinguished nursing professorship in the Brooks College of Health.

Prudential Foundation is providing continuing support for the Military and Veterans Resource Center. This year’s $20,000 gift pays for a training program for faculty and staff, including academic advisers, to increase awareness of issues affecting veterans. It also provides a book scholarship for student veterans, as well as a computer program that helps veterans and all students with their interviewing skills through the Career Service Center.

Previous gifts from Prudential have supported the University Center and the Hayt Golf Learning Center.

Vistakon, a division of Johnson & Johnson, recently gave UNF’s Biology Department a boost with the donation of a confocal laser-scanning microscope valued at more than $200,000. Students will use the microscopes to make three-dimensional images of desired objects.

Dr. Cliff Ross, associate professor in the Department of Biology, said the microscope gives the user a very accurate picture unobtainable with any other lab equipment.

“The resolution is amazing and dramatically expands our research capabilities,” Ross said. “Essentially, the microscope enables us to visualize life as it happens.”

Previously, the company provided gifts to purchase state-of-the-art instruments giving UNF students the ability to investigate the structure of organic compounds. This included a $300,000 magnetic resonance spectrometer.

Wells Fargo, which established a Jacksonville presence with its purchase of Wachovia in 2009, is one of UNF’s newest corporate philanthropists. Most recently, the company donated art valued at $156,000 to the University. The works of art will be used to augment the University’s Art and Design Department’s teaching collection. It will also be displayed in buildings around campus and at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in downtown Jacksonville, cultural resource of UNF.

Gail Nursey, senior vice president and area manager of North Central Florida Business Banking, said UNF was an obvious choice for the collection of art that Wells Fargo and its legacy institutions had amassed over the years.

“We were confident UNF could place the large number of pieces for maximum benefit,” she said. “We are proud to make this unique, one-time contribution of art to the University.”

Previously, the Wells Fargo Foundation contributed more than $100,000 to the First Generation Scholarship Program aimed at students who are the first in their families to attend college. Wells Fargo continues the charitable giving record established by Wachovia that supported scholarships in the Coggin College of Business and the College of Education and Human Services.

“To the corporate community, we extend our thanks on behalf of the many students who will benefit from these gifts in the years to come,” Allaire said.