Private support brings public success

Laura Huenneke

Just last month the university community moved into the public phase of The Campaign for NAU. This is my first experience being part of an institution’s comprehensive campaign.

Like many faculty, I find this both exciting and a bit challenging; after all, I trained as a biologist, not as a fundraiser!

But I’m convinced of the campaign’s value to NAU. An “ah-hah” moment came a few years ago, when the engineering deans (including me) from the three Arizona universities traveled with Bill Harris of Science Foundation Arizona to a large public university acknowledged as one of the nation’s best engineering schools. The program really was fantastic, with world-class faculty and terrific partnerships with organizations providing great opportunities for students. All of this is supported—often very generously—with philanthropic gifts much more than with state money.

I was impressed that this university is not an elite private school like Harvard, nor is it located in affluent New York City or California. Yet over time the institution has built relationships—with alumni and with other kinds of friends—who share and support the values and vision.

My own experiences with alumni and donors have been enjoyable. It’s exciting to learn what they are excited about and to help match their interests to opportunities for our students and programs. The Campaign for NAU is about partnering with those who want to help us keep supplying those special “Only at NAU” experiences for our students.

Exceptional student-faculty relationships led my husband and me to commit to establishing an endowment for undergraduate research and engagement opportunities. I’m looking forward to working with all the other generous individuals who are helping open doors for our students.

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