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Official signing and (impromptu) check handing off ceremony for a $5 million donation to the music department from Donald J. Puglisi and his wife Marichu Valencia. Puglisi -  an MBNA America Professor of Business Emeritus, board of trustees member, and recent chair of the search committee which selected UD's 28th President - and his wife, Valencia, have been exceptionally generous benefactors to the University of Delaware and to the music program, in particular. - (Evan Krape / University of Delaware)


Photo by Evan Krape

Puglisi, Valencia make UD history by pledging $5 million gift to Department of Music

On Friday, June 10, Donald J. Puglisi, a 2012 honorary degree recipient, and his wife, Marichu C. Valencia, made University of Delaware history when they signed a new $5 million commitment to the Donald J. Puglisi and Marichu C. Valencia Music Enrichment Fund, an unrestricted endowed fund established by the couple in 2010 to support the Department of Music.

The gift is the single largest contribution to the College of Arts and Sciences from a living person in the history of the University and will ensure a lasting legacy of music education, appreciation and enrichment at UD and throughout the region.

President Dennis Assanis expressed his heartfelt gratitude and excitement to Puglisi and Valencia on the momentous occasion of signing the gift agreement at Hullihen Hall.

“I am extremely grateful to Don and Marichu for their unprecedented commitment to the Department of Music and the University of Delaware over the years. Their latest transformational gift underscores the centrality of the arts and humanities in our academic mission and core values as an institution,” said Assanis. “I look forward to working closely with them and the Department of Music to build on our rich tradition of excellence and continue to make a strong impact in the community.”

Puglisi and Valencia are long-time supporters of the University and have strengthened a variety of initiatives within the College of Arts and Sciences, the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, the athletics program and, most recently, Engineers Without Borders.

George Watson, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said the couple’s generosity sends a powerful message about the importance of the arts.

“It demonstrates their leadership and belief in the broad mission of the University, touching the lives of both students and members of our community,” Watson said. “This investment in our students and our programs in music and the performing arts truly transforms lives and creates significant opportunities for both students and faculty for decades to come.”

Over the years, their leadership and collective contributions have impacted innumerable students and faculty, and have even motivated a community of music enthusiasts to financially support the University through the Puglisi Challenge.

“We believe music is a universal language that has a transformative effect on people,” explained Valencia. “It is our hope that this gift will help to further enrich the lives of our students, faculty and community, as well as encourage future generations to support the arts.”

The couple’s $5 million commitment will support many activities in the department such as student ensembles, visiting professors, guest artists, instrument equipment and travel costs to conferences, and will bolster the breadth and depth of the fund’s impact on music students at the University.

“The music programs at UD provide unparalleled experiences to our local, as well as global, audiences,” Puglisi said. “Our continuing investment in those programs is a recognition of the accomplishments and the promise of our extraordinary students and faculty, and our confidence in the future of our great University.”

Russell E. Murray Jr., music department chair and professor and founding director of the University of Delaware Collegium Musicum, said he is extraordinarily grateful to Puglisi and Valencia for their generosity and personal involvement in the Department of Music.

“This gift marks a new chapter for the Department of Music. Don and Marichu’s past gifts have made a real difference in the life of the department and this new gift allows us to build on the excellence of the department in new and exciting ways,” Murray said.

Thanks to the tremendous spirit of generosity of Puglisi and Valencia, the Department of Music will continue to shine as an academic and cultural powerhouse.

About Donald J. Puglisi and Marichu Valencia

Donald J. Puglisi is the MBNA America Professor Emeritus of Business, having served on the UD faculty for 30 years, and is the managing director of Puglisi and Associates. He currently serves as a member of the University’s Board of Trustees, has served as the University of Delaware Public Service Fellow with the Office of the Treasurer for the state of Delaware and as a Visiting Research Scholar with the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, and was co-chair of the presidential search committee for President Assanis. Puglisi is also a recipient of the University of Delaware's Medal of Distinction and an honorary doctor of humanities degree.

Marichu Valencia retired as senior interior designer from the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations with the U.S. Department of State. She currently serves as a member of the President’s Leadership Council at UD, which she joined in November 2015, and is a past co-chair of the University’s Master Players Concert Series Advisory Board. Valencia is passionate about serving the community and has worked with a host of local community organizations including the Boys and Girls Club of Delaware, Meals On Wheels Delaware, the Ronald McDonald House and the Newark Senior Center.

About the Department of Music

For more than 60 years, the University of Delaware Department of Music has been dedicated to the musical growth of its students and the cultural enrichment of the academic and regional communities.  The department also contributes greatly to UD’s vibrant community presence by providing an array of musical experiences and special programs to area residents – from giving young children their first exposure to music, to assisting music professionals as they pursue advanced degrees. During the academic year the department presents over 250 concerts featuring students, distinguished faculty members and special guest artists

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