The University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, has announced a gift of roughly $125 million from the estate of Robert and Jeannette Powell.
Valued at $100 million when the Powells announced the bequest in 2007, the gift — the largest ever received by the university — immediately boosted Pacific's endowment by nearly 60 percent, to $337 million. The university will allocate $35 million of the gift to the Powell Scholars program, which provides study abroad, research, and other enrichment opportunities and experiences for scholars; $25 million to create a matching fund to encourage others to create endowments for academic programs at the school; $3 million to maintain, store, and display Pacific's permanent art collection; and more than $60 million to a matching campaign for endowed student scholarships. The gift also includes works of art from the Powells' collection, valued at more than $400,000.
"This gift means the world to Pacific, and Pacific students are poised to make a difference in the world," said the university's president, Pamela A. Eibeck. "Bob and Jeannette's transformative gift will help us continue to advance in excellence and accessibility as we fulfill our mission of educating the whole student — intellect, character, and spirit — and of going beyond our gates to enhance our communities."
The son of a small business owner, Robert Powell became a developer and entrepreneur after serving in the Air National Guard and the U.S. Army. His landmark projects, including the Gold River, Campus Commons, and Selby Ranch communities, transformed Sacramento. He died some six months after he and his wife announced the $100 million bequest to the university, which subsequently grew in value. Jeannette Powell, who worked as an interior designer and became an influential patron of the local arts scene, died in December 2012.
"A single gift of this magnitude would be significant to any institution, but for a small private university with a modest endowment, it is truly transformational," said Kristen Soares, president of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities. "This gift ensures that Pacific will build on its rich history and contributions to California for generations to come, and secures its legacy of leadership among California institutions of higher education."