TAMPA, Fla. (Nov. 12, 2017) – The University of South Florida made history Saturday night at the Amalie Arena, showcasing the success of its billion-dollar USF: Unstoppable fundraising campaign with a celebration that featured a landmark moment of its own.
Just before the current campaign total of $1,034,668,903 flashed on a large screen, USF System President Judy Genshaft and USF Foundation CEO Joel Momberg welcomed to the stage Pam and Les Muma, who announced they were making a new transformative gift of $15 million to the university that shaped them as students.
The new transformative gift by Pam and Les Muma added an exclamation point to the billion-dollar USF: Unstoppable fundraising campaign milestone.
The surprise revelation ignited a thunderous ovation from the sellout crowd of some 800 top USF donors and guests, followed by a cannon blast of streamers that wafted from the Amalie ceiling at the flashing sight of the grand total – and the blast that promptly followed on the dance floor as the audience danced to the music of iconic disco and funk band KC and The Sunshine Band.
The Mumas pumped up the volume considerably with the gift announcement, which will benefit three areas they have helped in the past at USF: business, athletics and health.
“What a phenomenal night,” Pam Muma told the gathering, which was treated at the outset to a stirring rendition of God Bless the USA by 2004 USF College of the Arts graduate Quentin Darrington in a Veterans Day tribute. “I know how much time and effort goes into an event like this. And Les and I want to thank so many of you for making this such a memorable evening for all of us.”
She praised President Genshaft as “an amazing leader and the spirit of USF” while also singling out the tireless work of the USF Foundation team and the campaign chairs over the past decade.
The Mumas, who remain the largest individual donor to USF with a total of over $56 million, took turns at the microphone describing the breakdown of their latest landmark gift: $5 million to the Muma College of Business, $2 million to establish a Women’s Health Center at the Tampa General Hospital campus, and $8 million to USF Athletics – $5 million of which will go toward the construction of a newly announced USF Football Center.
“We are so thankful for all that Pam and Les have done for USF – their support has helped power the transformation of USF, and has made a tremendous difference for our talented students, phenomenal faculty and campus infrastructure,” Genshaft said. “Their gift also sends the important message that the campaign isn’t over as we continue on our path as one of the leading public research universities in the country.”
USF is now one of only three U.S. public universities to raise $1 billion in a single campaign since 1956 (along with the University of California San Diego and the University of California Irvine). The USF: UnstoppableCampaign was launched in 2009, and the initial fundraising goal was reached in 2013 in spite of a recession. The drive toward $1 billion began four years ago, and USF has exceeded that goal with seven months still remaining in the campaign.
-Story by Dave Scheiber, USF Foundation, and photo by Matt May