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Delaware First campaign kicks off

Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson and Kevin Quinlan

Three new gifts totaling $45 million set the campaign in motion

More than 500 of the University of Delaware’s donors, alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends gathered on Friday, Nov. 10, at Clayton Hall to celebrate inspiration and innovation at the University. The signature event, part of a weekend of campus events to publicly launch Delaware First: The Campaign for the University of Delaware, formally unveiled the University’s engagement and fundraising campaign – the first of this magnitude in the University’s 274-year history.

The highlight of the evening came with the announcement of three unprecedented gifts to the University, supporting key initiatives in health care, graduate education and athletics. The gifts, totaling $45 million, came from six members of the Campaign Cabinet, including Board of Trustees member Carol A. Ammon ‘11H and Marie E. Pinizzotto, M.D., ‘08M; Board of Trustees member Stuart Grant and, his wife, Suzanne Grant; and Board of Trustees member Kenneth C. Whitney ’80 and, his wife, Elizabeth K. Whitney.

Eleni and Dennis Assanis
Eleni and Dennis Assanis

UD President Dennis Assanis and his wife, Eleni, expressed their heartfelt gratitude to Carol Ammon and Marie Pinizzotto, Stuart and Suzanne Grant, and Ken and Liz Whitney.

“The entire University community is extremely grateful for their generous support and dedication to advancing the mission of this great institution,” Assanis said. “They fully embrace our drive toward an extraordinary future by investing in health-care innovation, elevating the University’s vision of graduate education and creating unparalleled opportunities for our student-athletes. Together, they are transforming the meaning of possibility, leadership and purpose for UD.  They have set the pace for Delaware First in such a momentous way.”

Transforming Our World

Biopharmaceuticals prevent and treat some of the most prevalent and debilitating diseases that affect human health. As part of Delaware First, a planned 200,000 square-foot biopharmaceutical innovation (BPI) building will be built on STAR Campus and serve as the home for biopharmaceutical innovation, life sciences research and numerous education programs at UD.

The generous $25 million gift from Ammon and Pinizzotto will support this six-story, $156 million hub of innovation. Mobilizing a unique partnership between the University, industry, start-ups and federal and state agencies, BPI will create new jobs and provide opportunities for spin-off companies and manufacturing facilities. In recognition of their generosity, the building, which broke ground just three weeks ago, will be named for Ammon and Pinizzotto.  

“Marie and I have both spent our entire careers in the healthcare field and understand the critical nature of research and innovative manufacturing solutions to be able to help people everywhere,” Ammon said. “We feel this project will change not only patient care, but it will really change how medicine is delivered.”

Dr. Pinizzotto added, “We are thrilled to support what is such a promising and noble moment in the history of the University of Delaware – actually a game changer for Delaware and beyond.”

About Carol Ammon and Marie Pinizzotto, M.D.

Carol is retired as the founder of Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and has served as a UD trustee since 2013. She previously served as a trustee and chair of the board of Christiana Care and a member of the Healthcare Advisory Board at Harvard University. Marie is the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the Carol A. Ammon Foundation and has held numerous executive positions in the pharmaceutical and women’s health industries. She earned her MBA at UD in 2008 and has served on the President’s Leadership Council since 2012 and the College of Health Sciences Advisory Council since 2014. Marie also sits on numerous nonprofit boards and is the named chair of OB/GYN at Christiana Care.

In 2013, Carol and Marie made a $1 million gift to support the College of Health Sciences complex, part of UD's Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) campus. That same year, Carol was the benefactor responsible for the largest individual gift in the history of Christiana Care with a gift to the Wilmington Hospital Transformation Project.

At the Forefront of Graduate Education

Several of UD’s graduate programs are among the best in the nation and many more have the potential to further their reach and impact. Over the next 10 years, UD will launch initiatives to further graduate education, setting the stage for a potential Graduate College to serve as a catalyst for collaboration across every area of study at UD.

Stuart and Suzanne Grant value deeply the importance of advanced education and have demonstrated their commitment by making a $10 million gift to establish the Stuart M. and Suzanne B. Grant Graduate College Fund in support of this initiative. The fund will advance graduate education and develop the concept of a Graduate College. This will be key in attracting talented students and top-notch faculty who will serve as pioneers of future discovery, creativity and scholarly achievement across all disciplines.

In recognition of the Grants’ commitment, the University will name this collaborative initiative the Stuart M. and Suzanne B. Grant Graduate College. Their support will assist the University in expanding faculty, increasing graduate enrollment and offering diverse educational opportunities and career pathway preparation for doctoral students.

"It is an honor for Suzanne and me to invest in the University in such a meaningful way," Stuart Grant said. "We are excited to help the University cultivate a graduate college that will empower promising students and talented faculty to make new discoveries that advance the University's contributions to the region and world. We are certain that great things in research, innovation and scholarship will come from enhancing graduate education at UD.”

About the Grants

Stuart is the co-founder and managing director of Grant & Eisenhofer P.A., a Wilmington-based law firm that is recognized internationally for specializing in the representation of institutional investors. Suzanne is Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Delaware Public Employees Retirement System and has spent the past 35 years working in the investment industry. Suzanne also holds senior positions with The Jewish Federations of North America.

The Grants first became involved with UD when Stuart started the pre-veterinary curriculum through the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources in 2009 as a part-time student. In 2011, Delaware Governor Jack Markell appointed Stuart as a Trustee of the University. Stuart has also served on the Weinberg Center Advisory Board since 2013 and The President's Leadership Council since 2015.

In 2012, the Grants made a $1 million gift to the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources to develop and support an Equine Studies Program. In 2014, the Grants made a $1.5 million gift to the Department of Athletics and Recreation Services to support renovations to the Delaware Mini Stadium. The stadium was renamed the Stuart and Suzanne Grant Stadium in recognition of their generosity. The Grants founded the I Could Do Great Things Foundation, which encourages and funds innovative community-based projects with a nonprofit or charitable purpose.

Building Our Home

The University is committed to preparing conscientious and well-rounded student-athletes for life after UD. To make good on that promise, UD will transform its athletic campus by renovating Delaware Stadium and building a new, state-of-the-art Athletic Center for students.  

Ken and Liz Whitney believe in this vision and have chosen to support it with a $10 million gift to the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation Services. In recognition of this gift, the University will create and name the Whitney Athletic Center. A hub for strength and conditioning, athletic training, sports medicine, nutrition and wellness, the Center also will provide academic support, leadership development and career preparation for the Fightin’ Blue Hens.

“Our family believes in all of the great new initiatives happening at Delaware under the leadership of its President, Dr. Assanis. We are proud to be able to support the Blue Hens of today and tomorrow through the building of a new athletic center,” Ken ‘80 and Liz Whitney said in a joint statement. “We are excited in knowing the multiple ways this new center will enhance the student-athlete experience at the University for years to come. We also strongly believe in the positive impact athletics can have across an entire university community and beyond.”

About the Whitneys

In 1988, Ken Whitney joined Blackstone, one of the world’s leading investment firms, as one of its earliest partners and worked there for 25 years until his retirement in April 2013. Since then, he has managed a private family investment office focused on startup businesses, and has led numerous entertainment projects, winning a Tony Award for Best Musical in 2015 for “Fun Home” and the British Academy of Film and Television Award in Scotland for Best Feature Film in 2016 for “Tommy’s Honour.”

Ken is a 1980 graduate of the Lerner College of Business and Economics and has served on the UD Board of Trustees since 2007. In 2005, he was inducted into UD’s Alumni Wall of Fame and two years later awarded the Lerner College Alumni Award of Excellence. Liz is a former actress and 1980 graduate of UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television, and now serves on its Executive Board.

In 2005, the Whitneys created the Whitney Family Scholarship to support an incoming freshman who is majoring in accounting, involved in athletics and demonstrates genuine financial need.  In 2011, the Whitneys established the Whitney Family Endowed Chair for the Department of Accounting and Management Information Systems. Also in 2011, Ken developed the Whitney Challenge designed to encourage young alumni to support UD. As part of this challenge he matched all gifts of $25 or greater from undergraduate alumni who graduated between 2002 and 2011, dollar to dollar, up to $15,000.

As Delaware First continues to build momentum, the University remains grateful for the many supporters that have come before the public launch of the Campaign. These donors were instrumental in laying the foundation for which many others will follow by keeping Delaware first in their hearts and minds. For more information about Delaware First: The Campaign for the University of Delaware, visit here.


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