California-based Pacific Union College has received the
single largest private gift in its 132 history, a $2.4 million donation that
will be used to launch a major philanthropic drive.
The unrestricted contribution from the estate of the late
philanthropist Stephen Ball will provide the seed money for the newly
established Heritage Campaign, which will support a variety of unspecified
“Our campaign will affirm PUC’s heritage of excellence and
innovation, forge a legacy of service for our world, and support a compelling
learning community,” said Walter Collins, the college’s vice president for
advancement and alumni relations. “Mr. Ball’s generosity will be the bright
spark that helps bring this vision to life.”
Ball lived in St. Helena, a town located 8 miles north of
the college, for the 20 years until his death in April. He was born in 1944 in
Berkeley, California, and attended Armstrong College, a private liberal arts
college in Berkeley, the college said.
“Stephen Ball understood the mission and the impact that
Pacific Union College has had throughout its history, and we’re honored to
receive this gift at a time when our college in on a historic upward
trajectory,” college President Heather Knight said in a statement.
The college, founded as Healdsburg College in 1882,
currently has its largest enrollment in 24 years, a total of 1,678 students,
and its freshman to sophomore retention rate has grown from 71 percent to 85
percent over the past three years.
Susan Baxter, a longtime friend of Ball, said the
philanthropist made the donation because he backed Pacific Union College’s
mission statement to “offer an excellent Christ-centered education that
prepares its students for productive lives of useful human service and
uncompromising personal integrity.”
“Stephen was a
generous soul, and he appreciated those around him who made a difference in the
community,” Baxter said in the statement. “Pacific Union College is such an
asset to the Napa Valley community, and Stephen wanted to support the mission
of the college.”