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Eller College Home > News, Events, and Multimedia > Press Releases > Thomas R. Brown Foundation donates $4M

Press Release

Eller Press Contact

Liz Warren-Pederson
Eller College of Management

Thomas R. Brown Foundation donates $4 million to UA

Gift funds a chair in bioengineering in the College of Engineering and a chair in technology management in the Eller College of Management

TUCSON, Ariz. – October 30, 2007 –The Thomas R. Brown Family Foundation has donated $4 million to The University of Arizona to endow two faculty chairs — one in the College of Engineering and one in the Eller College of Management. Each college has received a $2 million gift to establish its endowment.

Tom Brown, Tucson’s most successful high-tech entrepreneur, died in 2002. Since that time, the Brown family, through its foundation, has been a strong supporter of technology and management at UA.

Tom Brown and his friend, Paige Burr, founded Burr-Brown Corp. in 1956. Texas Instruments acquired Burr-Brown in June 2000 for the highest price ever paid for an Arizona company.

Combining Technology and Management

“Burr-Brown grew to be a multi-billion-dollar enterprise because the people there were internationally competitive,” said Sarah Brown Smallhouse, one of Tom Brown’s daughters and president of the Brown Family Foundation. “They had the talent to both understand technology and management principles, and — in the context of a corporate culture that valued excellence and innovation — the company thrived.”

“The University of Arizona was a key partner in the success of Burr-Brown, and our trustees feel that helping to strengthen the university faculty in engineering and management is an appropriate way to give back to a community partner that made so much of Burr-Brown’s success possible,” she said.

Smallhouse announced the $4 million endowment gift at an annual luncheon that celebrates the Brown Foundation’s ongoing support of student scholarships in Engineering and the Eller College.

The new endowments will fund, in perpetuity, two faculty chairs that have been funded until now through annual gifts.

Bioengineering and Technology Management

Currently, Professor Amar Gupta holds the Thomas R. Brown Chair at the Eller College and Linda Powers, a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, holds the Thomas R. Brown Chair at the College of Engineering.

Since coming to UA, Gupta has led the creation of dual degree programs that offer students the opportunity to concurrently earn an MBA from the Eller College of Management with a master’s degree from the either the College of Engineering, College of Science, or College of Optical Sciences.

“Tomorrow’s most accomplished professionals will be equipped to accelerate the rate of innovation by combining deep technical knowledge with management skills,” said Paul Portney, dean of the Eller College of Management.  “These dual-degree programs are aligned with Tom Brown’s vision and fill a critical niche in technology transfer and commercialization of intellectual property. We believe this educational model could very well lead to the Burr-Browns of the future,”

Powers, an expert in the field of bioengineering, has been collaborating with BIO5 researchers at UA, and has founded her own company. The BIO5 Institute brings together researchers from agriculture, medicine, pharmacy, basic science and engineering to fuel economic development by pursuing state-of-the-art biological research.

“Bioengineering is experiencing incredible growth and offers many benefits to society, making it fertile ground for the development of technology-based businesses, which is why the College of Engineering has established its Tom Brown Chair in that area,” said Tom Peterson, dean of UA Engineering.

Professors Play Key Role

“A couple of years ago, we fully endowed the Tom Brown student scholarships,” Smallhouse said. “More recently, we talked about the role of professors. Our Foundation believes that the role that professors play in the lives of students and, ultimately to the future, cannot be over emphasized. Professors provide leadership, serve as mentors and role models, provide inspiration, and are trusted confidants as students look for career guidance.”

“University faculty are an absolutely essential part of fostering technology and management, and the trustees are proud to announce that today we endow these two chaired professorships in perpetuity,” Smallhouse announced to the students, faculty, administrators and foundation trustees gathered at the scholarship luncheon last week.

“This is an exciting moment for us, as we give the largest gift the Brown Foundation has ever made,” she added.

Peterson told the crowd, “We’ve been extremely fortunate to have this relationship with the Brown family and the Brown Family Foundation for a number of years. This relationship has clearly gone beyond financial support of our programs to a true friendship and collaborative interaction.”

Portney noted that “significant gifts like this help the Eller College create new knowledge and be regarded among the world’s best management schools. We must continue to attract and retain an outstanding research faculty, and we appreciate the Brown Foundation’s support toward accomplishing this goal.”

The Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona is internationally recognized for pioneering research, innovative curriculum, distinguished faculty, excellence in management information systems, entrepreneurship, and social responsibility. U.S. News & World Report ranks the Eller undergraduate program No. 11 among public business schools and two of its programs are among the top 20 — Entrepreneurship and MIS. U.S. News & World Report ranks the Eller MBA Full-Time program No. 48 in the U.S. In addition to a Full-Time MBA program, the Eller College offers the No. 25-ranked Evening MBA program, the Eller Executive MBA and the Online MBA. The Eller College of Management supports more than 5,800 undergraduate and 800 graduate students on the UA campus in beautiful Tucson, Arizona, and on its satellite campus in downtown Phoenix.

Press Contact:
Liz Warren-Pederson, Eller College of Management

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