Donations to Watts College during Campaign ASU 2020 total about $70 million, surpassing goal of $60 million

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Donors gave about $70 million over the past 10 years to expand Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions’ programs, support its students, increase its research impact and drive its community service.

The total surpassed Watts College’s goal of $60 million set in 2010 for the decadelong Arizona State University fundraising drive Campaign ASU 2020, said Matt Ingram, the college’s senior director of development.

The college fundraising total’s largest component was Mike and Cindy Watts’ 2018 gift of $30 million to the college that now bears their last name.

The Watts investment will have tremendous and long-lasting impact on the futures of hundreds of students; the research, teaching and service of dozens of faculty members; and the improved lives of thousands of residents of the community beyond Arizona State University’s campuses.

Though they differed in amounts, monetary and in-kind gifts to the Watts College throughout the campaign were made with the same aim: to help the college fulfill its mission to “be the solution” to society’s many challenges and thus make the world a better place. According to Ingram, many of the donations over the decade totaled less than $100 apiece – but the collective impact was significant.

Here are a few highlights of Watts College-based programs supported by the last 10 years of giving:

  • The $30 million gift in October 2018 from Mike and Cindy Watts, who grew up in the west Phoenix community of Maryvale, is furthering ASU’s mission to increase access to higher education and to partner with the community. The gift included the launch of an comprehensive, long-term initiative to catalyze and support community development in Maryvale, a neighborhood in the city of Phoenix that is generally lower income, struggling with educational attainment, but highly diverse and youthful.
  • After spending most of his life living with the effects of muscular dystrophy, 1997 School of Criminology and Criminal Justice (SCCJ) graduate Christopher Rearley passed away in December 2007 at age 33. His parents, Carolyn and Bob Rearley, honored him and the field he studied by hosting an annual poker tournament. In 12 years it raised more than $130,000 for SCCJ students with disabilities — the school’s largest scholarship endowment ever, according to school officials.
  • The Florence Eckstein Social Work Fellowship, for students pursuing a Master of Social Work degree, is named for Phoenix native Florence Eckstein, former publisher and executive editor of the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix (1981-2013). It is awarded each fall through the generous support of Paul and Florence Eckstein.
  • An initial grant from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust created the Bridging Success program in 2015. Dozens of students who at one time were in the state foster care system are involved in the program, designed to help them through challenges particular to their experiences and achieve their goals of receiving an ASU degree. 
  • ASU alumnus Todd Lemay was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, a brittle-bone disease that has led him to use a wheelchair for most of his life. Lemay was on the hunt for an all-terrain wheelchair and stumbled upon a company in the United Kingdom named TerrainHopper, an electrically powered off-road mobility vehicle that can conquer the type of challenging terrain a normal wheelchair can’t. He requested licensing, manufacturing and U.S. distribution rights. Lemay opened his own shop in Tempe in 2017 as TerrainHopperUSA. Lemay donated a TerrainHopper — they start at $18,000 — to the Watts College so that other students with disabilities can participate in outdoor adventures alongside their able-bodied counterparts.
  • When the Watts College-based Public Service Academy (PSA) debuted in 2015, its intention was to educate the next generation of public servants. At the time, it was the only program of its kind in the country, supported by a $1.2 million gift from ASU President Michael Crow and his wife, Sybil Francis. A new partnership between Watts College and the Volcker Alliance is helping other universities establish their own academies. The college and the alliance recently launched the Next Generation Service Partnership. Four other universities are working to establish programs of their own in 2021.
  • Students with a passion for public service can apply to be one of the Cantelme Scholars, named for retired Phoenix Fire Capt. Pat Cantelme, who is co-founder, president and chairman of the board of the CDH Charitable Foundation. The Cantelme Scholars program resides within the Public Service Academy.
  • Laura Orr, the student and academic services manager of the School of Social Work, retired in 2018 after devoting 47 years of service to the university. The Laura Orr Memorial Scholarship Fund directly supports students studying for bachelor’s or master’s degrees in social work.
  • The Spirit of Service Scholars program honors outstanding students from all disciplines who are passionate about public service leadership and advocacy. Selected students receive a $5,000 scholarship and engage in public service leadership through a year-round program administered by the Watts College-based Congressman Ed Pastor Center for Politics and Public Service.
  • The Marvin Andrews Fellowship in Urban Management, named for the respected former Phoenix city manager, benefits selected students pursuing a master’s degree in urban management. Fellows receive a tuition waiver for four fall/spring semesters, an annual stipend of $15,000, health insurance and financial support to assist with travel to annual conferences.
  • In December, the family of Watts College Dean Jonathan Koppell capped off the campaign by creating a scholarship fund in the name of his grandmothers. Read about them and the fund here.

Material for summaries of supported programs is from earlier stories by Mark Scarp of Watts College, Marshall Terrill of ASU Now and Jane Lee of ASU Enterprise Partners.