From El Paso Inc.: Centennial campaign raises more than $200M

By on October 21, 2014

The University of Texas at El Paso’s big fundraising campaign has reached its goal of raising $200 million.

Exactly how much the Centennial Campaign, the largest fundraiser in UTEP’s 100-year history, has raised will not be announced until next month. But those involved with the campaign confirmed last week that the goal would be exceeded.

“It’s going to be more,” said El Paso businessman Russ Vandenburg, who co-chairs the campaign.

When the university’s yearlong celebration of its centennial concludes Dec. 31, so will the fundraising campaign, which was launched in 2007 to mark UTEP’s centennial.

“The Centennial Campaign has allowed UTEP to go out in the community, and across the country, to say we’ve been here 100 years, this is who we are and what we have achieved, and we’ve got a lot more to achieve in the future,” Vandenburg said.

So far, 26,000 people have made contributions to the Centennial Campaign, according Howard Daudistel, UTEP’s senior executive vice president.

UTEP plans to make the big announcement of how much the Centennial Campaign has raised when the University of Texas System Board of Regents meet in El Paso Nov. 5-6. It is a rare meeting. The regents do not often meet outside of Austin.

“They are coming because they want to celebrate with us the close of the centennial year,” Daudistel said.

More than $35 million has been raised just for UTEP’s endowment, which now has a market value of more than $196 million, according to UTEP data.

“That’s interesting, because it supports UTEP in perpetuity,” Daudistel said.

UTEP completed its last fundraising campaign, the Legacy Campaign, in 2000. It had a goal of raising $50 million, but ultimately raised $66 million, according to UTEP data.

The most surprising thing about the latest campaign, Vandenburg said, is how much support has come from people who did not attend UTEP.

Many alumni have contributed to the campaign, as is expected with any sort of university fundraiser, he said, but 42 percent of the contributions have come from people who were never UTEP students.

“If that doesn’t tell somebody how important UTEP is to the community, I don’t know what other number you can look at,” Vandenburg said.

The largest contribution to the campaign to date was made by Mike Loya, president of one of the world’s largest oil trading companies and a UTEP graduate.

Three years ago, Loya pledged $10 million to UTEP to create the Mike Loya Distinguished Chair in Engineering, which supports research initiatives and graduate student development.

The funds also created the Mike Loya Center for Innovation and Commerce, which promotes engineering entrepreneurship by fostering collaboration between the colleges of Engineering and Business Administration.

UTEP’s Academic Services Building has been named in Loya’s honor.

Other major contributions include nearly $7 million from the Hunt Family Foundation, chaired by El Paso businessman Woody Hunt, and $2 million from alumnus Robert Malone and energy company Halliburton.

Businessmen Paul Foster and Jeff Stevens each made contributions of $3 million. Alumnus James Cearley and his wife, Susan, made a gift of $1 million to support UTEP’s Center for Entrepreneurial Geosciences.

What’s made the campaign successful, Vandenburg said, is the success UTEP has had under the leadership of President Diana Natalicio.

“Everyone has seen how the university improves every year – not only academically but in accessibility and in reaching its goal of serving the community,” he said.

Tripper Goodman heads UTEP’s Development Board, which assists with fundraising. He agrees.

“We have a tremendous leader over there. Diana Natalicio is well thought of throughout the country, and that is a huge part of the success of the campaign,” Goodman said.

Daudistel said he is not surprised by the campaign’s success.

“Throughout our history,” he said, “what has been particularly special about UTEP is the community has always supported it despite the fact that, relative to so many other cities, El Paso is not a region of tremendous wealth.”

Email El Paso Inc. reporter Robert Gray at or call (915) 534-4422 ext. 105. Twitter: @ReporterRobby

Published 10/20/14 at

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