Vol. 4 No. 19 | May 16, 2007

 

Franke's investment in excellence: Donation raises
the bar across campus

William A. Franke's generosity toward Northern Arizona University has done much more than add $25 million to the university's new W.A. Franke College of Business.

"This contribution could not tie in better with Northern Arizona University's mission as the premier undergraduate university," said NAU President John Haeger. "The gift raises the bar across campus in terms of fundraising and our commitment to undergraduates.

"An investment of this magnitude will truly transform the university as a whole."

Franke's donation was announced Tuesday during press conferences in Phoenix and Flagstaff. A standing-room-only crowd in the business building applauded loud and long at Franke's introduction, stopping only when prompted by the donor.

At the same time, Franke's family, including is wife Carolyn, became teary-eyed.

One of Arizona's most prominent business leaders, Franke is former CEO of America West Airlines, Circle K and Southwest Forest Industries. He also is former owner of KNAZ-TV Channel 2 in Flagstaff.

Though he has close ties to the Flagstaff area, he had no formal connection with Northern Arizona University until this commitment.

"I saw at NAU an opportunity that I didn't see at other universities," Franke said. "You could create a model, execute it and impact the students. That is something you don't find in an urban environment."

Mason Gerety, dean of the College of Business, described the contribution as an "investment in excellence."

News of Franke's $25 million gift is already making headlines across the state and nation:

Arizona Daily Star
The Business Journal Serving Greater Milwaukee
KGUN TV Tucson
The Business Journal Phoenix
KSAZ-TV Fox 10 News Phoenix
KPNX-TV 12 News Phoenix
The Arizona Republic
The Arizona Republic
KTVK-TV 3 News Phoenix
KVOA-TV Tucson
Atlanta Business Chronicle
East Bay Business Times
AZCentral.com
Casa Grande Valley Newspapers
Arizona Daily Sun
The Chronicle of Philanthropy
Tucson Citizen
Examiner.com
KOLD TV Tucson
Washington Business Journal
KMSB TV Fox 11 Tucson

The gift will fund scholarships for underrepresented students, support eminent scholars at the college, allow the college to maintain a lead position in technology, support ethics education and promote the college's emphasis on written and oral communication skills.

Gerety said the college is committed to graduating students who understand the necessity of strong strategic business planning and who graduate with "a sense of knowing what the right thing is to do in the business community."

Flagstaff Mayor Joe Donaldson and members of the City Council as well as representatives from the Chamber of Commerce and the Flagstaff business community were among the nearly 70 individuals at the Flagstaff press conference. Haeger said he views the donation to NAU to be an investment in Flagstaff as well.

"We have a saying here at NAU—Flagstaff and Northern Arizona University: One community," he explained. "Any success for NAU ties to Flagstaff and the reverse is true as well."

Franke has been active in the charitable and civic community and has served as chairman of Phoenix 40, member of the International Board of Barrow Neurological Institute, chairman of COMPAS (arts funding), member of the Dean's Council, Arizona State University business college, and the Dean's Circle, Stanford Law School.

The Franke family has been financial supporters of Sojourner Center in Phoenix, the United Way, Stanford (endowed professorship), and established minority student scholarships at NAU, ASU and the University of Arizona, among others.

Click here for more photos from the press conference.

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