Rice United Way Campaign smashes record with $282,217 in pledges

Rice employees raised a record-breaking $282,217 through the 2015 Rice United Way Campaign. The total far surpassed the campaign’s $225,000 fundraising goal and for the second year in a row earned Rice the designation as one of the most generous institutional donors in the Houston community.

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From left, President David Leebron, University Representative Y. Ping Sun, Professor Herb Ward and Rice Board of Trustees Chair Bobby Tudor '82 present a check to David McClanahan of the United Way of Greater Houston. Donations have continued to roll in after the check presentation, and as of Dec. 7, the total amount raised through the 2015 Rice United Way Campaign is $282,217. (Photo by Jeff Fitlow)

“Thanks so much to all of you for your commitment and support of this really important effort at Rice and for the city of Houston,” said Bobby Tudor ’82, Rice Board of Trustees chairman, who has been a longtime United Way board member and has been affiliated with the organization for many years. “(My wife) Phoebe and I are big believers in the United Way’s capacity to make a huge difference in the lives of Houstonians and in particular in the lives of the most needy Houstonians.”

President David Leebron echoed the sentiment: “I want to extend a very special thanks. This is very important to Ping and to me, very important to the university and very important to the city of Houston. Your generosity this year has been remarkable.”

To date, the university has achieved a participation rate of 28.7 percent, with 983 donors. The Wiess School of Natural Sciences had the highest total contributions — $29,412. For the fourth year in a row, the Office of Public Affairs and the Investments division tied for the highest participation rate, 100 percent, and Facilities Engineering and Planning had the most donors, 135. The George R. Brown School of Engineering had the most lead donors, 13.

University Representative Y. Ping Sun, lead donor chair for the campaign, noted that for the first time Rice had 101 lead donors, those who pledged $1,000 or more. Because Rice raised more than $250,000, it achieved a spot in the “Chairman’s Division,” the United Way’s top group of institutional donors. This is the second year Rice has achieved this level of giving. Last year Rice raised $253,137.

“At Rice I feel very fortunate to be the lead donor chair for the last few years, and in that capacity I want to say ‘thank you’ to each and every one of you,” Sun said. “Because of you, our campaign is getting better and better every year.”

Leebron thanked Tudor especially for his leadership of the campaign and for his and Phoebe’s generous matching gift in which they matched each dollar that employees pledged above their previous year’s contribution.

“I know Bobby is passionate about this, and his challenge gifts over the past three years have been a key element in increasing our United Way giving by 40 percent,” Leebron said. “We could not have done this without Bobby’s leadership — through both that financial contribution that he made but also by making it clear to all of us that this is something important to the university.”

The United Way’s David McClanahan, chairman of this year’s communitywide campaign, commended Rice for its accomplishment.

“You’re a great leader in our community, a great leader in higher education and you set a great example for giving back to our community and giving to the United Way,” he said. “Thank you for being leaders in our community and thank you for being leaders in the United Way.”

It’s not too late to make a contribution to the 2015 Rice United Way campaign. Because many employees traditionally make their charitable contribution decisions during the winter break, pledges will still be accepted through the end of the first week of classes and the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend. To make a payroll pledge that divides your gift over all your 2016 paychecks, visit esther.rice.edu or pledge by cash, check, credit card or payroll deductions using the pledge form found online at http://rice.edu/unitedway.

Honorary chairs of the Rice United Way Campaign were Leebron and Tudor. Tina Villard, director of the Gibbs Recreation Center, was the staff chair; Herb Ward, professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering, was the faculty chair; and Greg Marshall ’86, director of university relations in the Office of Public Affairs, was the campaign manager.

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About Jennifer Evans

Jennifer Evans is a senior editor in the Rice's Office of Public Affairs.