Employee gifts inspire campus philanthropists

Mariana Garrett in the field
Conservation fieldwork by NAU students such as Jenna Garrett will continue in the Northern Mariana Islands because of an anonymous faculty gift.

Six Northern Arizona University undergraduates will receive small awards to support their research in the Northern Mariana Islands as a result of a gift to the NAU Foundation by a faculty member who wishes to remain anonymous and who strongly believes in hands-on education and research.

“The gift is the first of its kind to the program, but we hope it will jump-start gifts from donors who are interested in promoting learning and research in the area of conservation ecology,” said Russell Benford, assistant research professor in the College of Forestry, Engineering and Natural Sciences.

Gifts like this from faculty and staff are further proof—if further proof is needed—of the university’s ongoing commitment to student success.

This year’s Employee Giving Campaign, which kicks off on Monday, encourages student support from those who are closest to them. Building on the recently launched Campaign for NAU, the Employee Giving Campaign seeks both to recognize the critical role that faculty and staff play in students’ lives and to encourage further philanthropic participation among employees.

“NAU employees make an enormous difference in the lives of students every day,” said Betsy Mennell, associate vice president for University Advancement. “Participating in the employee giving campaign is a wonderful way to further support the types of student-centered experiences that are our hallmark.”

Last year’s Employee Giving Campaign attracted more than 900 employee gifts. This year, the goal is to secure support from more than 1,000 employees.

“When those closest to us—our faculty and staff—support the university philanthropically, it allows us to make a strong case with those external foundations, corporations and donors who can make transformative gifts,” Mennell said. “Strong employee participation allows us to tell another very powerful ‘Only at NAU’ story.”

The university’s focus on serving first-generation students, for instance, continues to attract widespread support, including a recent $850,000 award from the Suder Foundation for the First Scholars Program.

In order to participate, employees may go online to sign up for an ongoing payroll deduct pledge or give a one-time gift to the fund of their choice. Volunteers representing the campaign will also follow up with university employees with more information.