The W.A. Franke Honors College

Nov. 1, 2021

Cultivating Leadership with a Global Lens

honors college

When  the  Franke  family  was  invited  on  a  hard-hat  tour of the Honors Village during its construction in 2019, they were there to see the bricks and mortar of the Honors College, but they wound up connecting with the heart of the college — its students.

The  family’s  father,  Bill  Franke,  says  he  was  impressed  by  the  energy  and  freshness  of  the  students  he met that day, as well as their inquisitive attitudes. He was  inspired  by  his  conversations  with  these  students  and saw the potential to nurture these traits by assisting them with their educational goals.

After attending high school in Brazil, Bill became a scholarship student at Stanford University. He says his education provided a tremendous foundation for reaching his life aspirations. Once he was in a position to give back,  he  was  convinced  that  others  should  have  the  same kinds of educational opportunities that had made a difference in his life.

Bill and his entire family believe in the importance of education and, through their actions, open doors for underrepresented students. By supporting first generation and minoritized students, they help enrich student populations with a diversity of perspectives.

Bill’s  commitment  to  philanthropy  in  education  with  an  eye  toward  equity  began  decades  ago,  when  he divided the benefits of a life insurance policy among Northern  Arizona  University,  Arizona  State  University  and the University of Arizona. “I have an interest in protecting the state and offering Arizona the opportunity to take advantage of the creativity and energy of the next generation,”  he  says.  “I  focused  on  Arizona  because  in my career I had the opportunity to speak to the stu-dents at all three schools and was impressed by them.”

The  Franke family  also  had  ample  opportunity  to  spend time with University of Arizona students and faculty  when  Bill’s  son, Brian Franke,  became  a  Wildcat.  Brian earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration  and  is  now  a  trustee  on  the UArizona Foundation  board.  Brian  may  be  a  Wildcat  for  Life,  but  the  Franke family’s interest goes well beyond Wildcat pride to a deep appreciation for university leadership and the mission of the Honors College.

“I’m impressed with Dr. Robbins, who has an energy level and attitude that is noteworthy in the academic community,” Bill says.

Brian’s  brother,  Dave,  shares  the  family’s  passion  for  reducing  student  financial  burdens  and  supporting  meaningful  student  experiences,  especially  when  it  comes  to  international  learning  through  immersive  study abroad experiences provided by the Honors College. The Frankes' are especially focused on cultivating students  with  a  global  perspective,  says  Dave.  “The  world is getting smaller every day — you need to know how to work in a global context.” The   visionary   generosity   of   the   Franke   family   established the W.A. Franke Honors College in October with a historic $25 million gift, but Bill Franke will be the first to tell you that this gift is not about seeing his name on a building. “It’s just about improving the excellence of  the  program,  so  that  when  students  graduate,  they  come away and say, ‘That meant something. I am different. I see the world differently. I have a good core value base and I know how to go out and meet the problems of the world.’ That’s what excites us.”

Removing Barriers and Enhancing Excellence

The Franke naming gift will strengthen several areas of support for honors students. Dean Terry Hunt of the W.A. Franke Honors College is quick to note that beyond the tremendous financial resources it offers, the recognition that comes with the naming of any college is invaluable. “It demonstrates local and national recognition that will really propel a college forward,” Hunt says. “You can’t measure that kind of impact, but we know it’s important.”

The Frankes' Support Will:

  • Remove barriers to educational access with scholarships and housing awards for the new Honors Village.
  • Establish an Honors Faculty Academy in which faculty members will be recognized and receive financial awards for excellence in teaching and mentorship.
  • Create global fellowships and expand the college's existing study abroad programming
—Riley Iosca