Nov. 1, 2020

The Wildcat community has come together to Fuel the Response to the challenges of COVID-19. This means funding COVID-19 research and testing as well as supporting students and staff during this critical time. Every intervention into the havoc caused by COVID-19 is vital. Today we highlight one of our most important student-centered funds, and celebrate the generosity that makes it possible.

In mid-March, President Robbins heard from two alumni who, in the midst of navigating the first wave of East Coast COVID-19 surges, anticipated that UArizona students were going to face a challenging year. Charles and Kerry Tyler had just one question: How could they help?

Before formal shelter-in-place orders were even issued in Arizona, the Tylers made a substantial gift to mitigate the impact of an unprecedented global pandemic on UArizona students. This gift would have been inspirational and consequential in its own right — effectively answering the economic distress calls of more than 500 students — but the Tylers wanted to do more.

When Charles lost his father this past spring, the Tylers were moved to honor Richard Huntington Tyler’s lifelong dedication to teaching — and love for both UArizona and the Tucson community — with a philanthropic memorial. Most of all, Richard loved providing opportunities for students, and, thanks to the Richard H. Tyler Student Emergency Fund, his legacy endures.

The fund is designed to safeguard students against withdrawing from school due to sudden emergency or crisis. This past spring, many of our students lost jobs in the service industry or other lines of work that simply do not have remote options. Complicating factors abounded: vulnerable elderly family members, children to be homeschooled, lack of remote internet access.

“I lost my part-time position during the height of the pandemic,” Kevin Minh Chau, a funded student, said. “Thanks to you, I was able to focus on my schoolwork and finished strong with a 4.0 GPA for the semester.”

The Wildcat community joined the Tylers in supporting students. Over 1,477 donors have contributed to a crowdfunding effort that has offered more than $1 million to fuel the response to COVID-19. This wellspring of generosity has supported nearly 2,000 students during a critical time.

“This fund made it possible for me to keep my apartment while searching for a new job,” said a graduate student in public health who received assistance. “If I hadn’t received this funding, I would have had no choice but to move back to my home state until things settled down. That would’ve possibly meant taking a semester off until I was able to find the money to return. I thank God for those people who donate to this fund, because they are helping more than they could ever imagine.”

“I am forever grateful for your generosity in these difficult times. I lost my part-time position during the height of the pandemic. Thanks to you, I was able to focus on my schoolwork and finished strong with a 4.0 GPA for the semester!”
— Kevin Minh Chau, support recipient

Story by Riley Iosca