Donors Support ‘Heart and Soul’ of UA
Birmingham natives J. Wray and Joan Pearce were just the second individuals in their middle-class families to go to college. The certified public accountant and former educator both felt getting a quality education was key to their future, and UA provided the foundation for their success.
Growing up, Wray said he learned the importance of giving from his family, particularly “my mother, who was the most giving person I’ve ever known, and my grandfather, who gave me the money for books, tuition, room, and board for my first semester at UA after I served four years in the Marine Corps.”
Wray believes that “giving is something you learn” and knew that, as a family, he and Joan wanted to help others through giving when they were able. Together they have endowed a library fund in honor of Joan’s grandmother and three scholarships in the College of Education to honor his mother, her mother, and Joan.
“Our education has meant so much to us,” Joan said. “UA gave us the opportunity to move forward and now we have the opportunity to give back.”
When deciding on a gift to the Capstone, the Pearces determined that funding a $1,000,000 charitable gift annuity that will support the University Libraries best fit their needs and goals.
Because a gift annuity allows the donor to make a charitable gift and receive fixed payments for life, Wray said they were able to make their contribution with confidence that the income would be there if they needed it and they could donate it back to UA if they didn’t need it.
“The truth is that when you near retirement, you ask ‘do I have enough?’” he said. “Clearly, you have to have an affinity and resources, and be comfortable in giving. We felt a gift annuity was the best way we could contribute.”
Joan said they chose to support the UA Libraries because they feel the library is “the heart and soul of an academic setting.”
Wray agrees that making the best library resources available to students will enhance the University. “The level of student that UA is recruiting is amazing,” he said. “Raising the quality of students makes people want to be there. Having a world-class research library contributes to that, too, and makes UA that much better.”