Photos of the Garff Building Donors at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Wednesday October 3rd, 2018

The U’s newest donation campaign that started in September of this year, “Imagine New Heights,” strives for more. With a goal to raise $2 billion by 2022, the U is already over half way done.

From July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017, $215.4 million dollars were donated to the U. Of that, $27.2 million came from alumni. In fact, $120 million of the funds that the U has raised since 1970 is from alumni.

Through a series of promotional videos and personal stories, the campaign pushes donors to focus on the needs of students and staff. Donors stepped up to the plate, giving a total of $287 million for research, $221 million for public programs, $165 million for buildings, $145 million for academic programs and another $98 million for scholarships and fellowships.

With multiple ways to give, the U accepts donations through the Development Office website, over the phone and via mail. Not all donations need to be cash, credit or check. The university accepts stocks, mutual funds, donor-advised funds and matching gifts. A mutual fund is a pool of money collected from investors to be reinvested into stocks, bonds and other assets. Donor-advised funds are an indirect method to donate to public charities such as the U that give donors a tax break. The donor sets up the fund, puts in cash or property, receives the tax deduction and their assets grow tax-free until the donor gives the funds to an organization. Matching gifts ask the companies of donors to donate the same amount or more than what the donor themselves gave. The U’s Development Office website, under “ways to give,” features a search bar for any interested donors to easily discover what their companies are willing to match.

Some donors give in honor of loved ones. The U’s new Robert H. and Katharine B. Garff Building was given to the university with a $12 million donation from the Garff children. The building was named after their parents as a surprise for them.

According to the dean of the David Eccles School of Business, Taylor Randall, the Garff children are the third generation of their family to invest in the U.

The new building is finished and ready for Master’s of Business Administration programs to move in by July. It features handcrafted doors and Italian tile in the restrooms.

“Our parents have been our personal heroes since we were children,” Matthew Garff told the U’s development newsletter, IMPACT. “One of the closest things to my parents’ hearts is education, and they taught us to value it above all else. As a true Ute family, we are thrilled to have this opportunity to give back to the school that taught us so much and to simultaneously honor our parents for their tireless efforts and continuous donations to education in Utah. We believe that this building will live up to our parents’ names by providing top-tier instruction and programs.”

Of course, not all donations are in the millions or are given away to honor ones’ parents. The student-run U-Phonathon team calls and connects with alumni. After updating information, building relationships and sharing what’s new at the U, callers plea for donations.

According to the department’s website, the U receives 10.5 percent of its budget from the state of Utah, leaving the rest of the needed funds up to sources such as generous gifts.

Names of high-giving donors make up campus from the Robert H. and Katharine B. Garff Building to the various Eccles facilities. Not all donors’ names make it on the outside of buildings, but they can still be featured inside. The Garff family name is not the only one to make an appearance on the Robert H. and Katharine B. Garff Building. Inside, it features breakout rooms for students along with plaques of the names and pictures of the donors who made it possible. The building also includes a diagram on the main floor of donors and their given amounts.

These visual tributes are not new to the Robert H. and Katharine B. Garff Building. In multiple classrooms across campus, the faces of donors cover the walls. Room 2850 in the Language and Communications Building once had whiteboards hanging for professors. Now, as students learn, they have the face of a donor staring back at them.

As the university strives to move up in university rankings, attract and keep talented faculty and push students through to graduation, costs rise. Through emails, phone calls and mailings, the U scavenges to find all of the funds that it can.

“All of our successes—increased retention and graduation rates, outstanding patient outcomes and research breakthroughs—are the result of individuals who collectively comprise the University of Utah,” said U President Ruth V. Watkins, to @theU, “working together as one university.”


Mackenzie McDermott
Mackenzie had one year full of covering news before jumping to sports as editor. Now, going into her junior year, Mackenzie is back to the desk she started at filling the role of News Editor.


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