College Namings | Transformational Progress

Oct. 30, 2023
Student studies in space at W.A. Franke Honors College

Naming a college goes beyond making a change to a brick-and-mortar building and a website. Gifts of this magnitude set a college on a trajectory for growth and impact, whether through endowed chairs, scholarships, investments in programming or other visionary contributions. When a college is named, the associated funding helps the college invest in targeted resources that will take it to the next level in student support, research acumen and overall excellence.

We see this success among the colleges that were named 20 or more years ago. The Eller College of Management ranks No. 20 among public undergraduate business programs, and its management and information systems degree program consistently ranks among the top five in the nation. Meanwhile, the James E. Rogers College of Law currently recruits its students from the top 15% of the national applicant pool, has an award-winning trial advocacy program and is the only law school that offers degrees at every level of higher education, from undergraduate through doctoral. And the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health not only is Arizona’s first and only accredited college of public health but also is recognized both internationally for its research productivity and nationally for its leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Several colleges have been named with generous gifts more recently and are poised for amplified success. The 2019 naming of the James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences recognized the contributions of its namesake to the college. Wyant, an Optica fellow, is the founding dean and past president of the College of Optical Sciences, and he has been instrumental in establishing the university as a national leader in optics and photonics. His gift included the endowment of 10 new chairs at the college, representing a major boon to faculty recruitment and retention as well as to the college’s pursuit of cutting-edge research and opportunities for students to participate in research, even at the undergraduate level.

In the fall of 2021, the R. Ken Coit College of Pharmacy was named with a gift presented by alumnus and entrepreneur Ken Coit ’67 and his family. The gift created an endowment for 42 new scholarships, four endowed professorships and six new endowed chairs, including individual chairs for drug discovery, neurodegenerative diseases and toxicology. It also funds strategic investments in research equipment and facility upgrades and includes funding for the Coit Museum of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, a unique collection of historical pharmacology artifacts. This philanthropy solidifies the University of Arizona Health Sciences’ place as a frontrunner in pharmaceutical education, research and innovation.

Also in the fall of 2021, the W.A. Franke Honors College was named by William A. “Bill” Franke along with his wife, Carolyn, and the Franke family. Their gift provided scholarships, stipends to defray the cost of living in the Honors Village, funding for study abroad to help students develop global leadership skills, an endowed deanship and a new Honors Faculty Academy that provides top faculty members with financial rewards for excellence in research and teaching. Thanks to this philanthropic investment, the W.A. Franke Honors College is poised to become a top honors college while also becoming more accessible to first-generation and low-income students. Its prestige will serve as a beacon for talented prospective students, improving undergraduate recruitment for the entire university.

Naming a college means having a vision and taking action as a philanthropic leader at the University of Arizona. It means partnering with the university to set an entire college on a path not just to succeed but to excel in its own right. It means considering what would benefit a school in its current state and making informed, creative choices regarding how to best empower that college to shine.

Naming a college means shaping its future

“I want students from the Honors College to graduate confident that the program has provided a deep skill set to leverage their natural abilities to think, to lead and to problem-solve into long-term career and life success. Whether they’re moving into careers in science, education or business, there will be opportunities for these graduates to provide leadership and to help develop perspective with the communities they’re engaged with.” — Bill Franke 

“It is my goal to see the College of Pharmacy take its place among the top three programs in the nation. With this gift, the college can recruit the best and brightest students and faculty, who will go on to change the face of health care around the world.” — Ken Coit ’67 

“My hope is to ensure a pathway for the College of Optical Sciences to achieve even greater prominence and success in its education and research mission.” — James Wyant