Cancer Survivor Gives $25 Million to Build El Paso’s First Comprehensive Cancer Center
Auto dealer Steve Fox and his family gave $25 million to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso to support clinical trials, research, and recruitment of physicians, nurses, and researchers for a comprehensive cancer that will be built on the campus. Plus, Pamela Wood Avedisian gave $20 million to American University of Armenia, MacKenzie Scott gave $12 million for affordable housing, and 3 other institutions landed multi-million dollar gifts.
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A roundup of notable gifts compiled by the Chronicle:
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso
Nancy and Steve Fox and their daughters Ashley and Paige gave $25 million to support clinical trials, research, and recruitment of physicians, nurses, and researchers for a comprehensive cancer that will be built on the campus. The new center will be named the Steve and Nancy Fox Cancer Center.
Steve Fox is president and CEO of Fox Auto Team, a group of car dealerships in El Paso. He battled cancer more than 20 years ago and had to travel to another city to receive treatment because El Paso didn’t have a cancer center. He said in a news release that the experience of fighting cancer and having to travel far from home to receive treatment made him better understand the profound effect the all-encompassing disease has on families.
“It really ends up being a ‘family disease,’” Steve Fox said in a news release. “You may be the cancer patient, but it affects everybody. It affects your wife, your children, your friends, and your coworkers.”
The Fox Cancer Center will consolidate outpatient services such as cancer imaging, treatment, research, clinical trials, and other programs under one umbrella and make it possible for families who live in El Paso to remain together during treatment.
American University of Armenia
Pamela Wood Avedisian gave $20 million to back the construction of several new buildings on the university’s Yerevan, Armenia, campus. Among them: the Edward and Pamela Avedisian Building for programs in the humanities and social sciences and another building that will house the university’s arts programs.
Wood Avedisian is a pianist and retired legal secretary in Boston. She is the widow of Edward Avedisian, a Boston Pops Orchestra clarinetist who made the couple’s fortune through savvy personal investing over many years. He served on the Armenian university’s Board of Trustees and gave extensively to the institution during his lifetime.
Edward Avedisian attracted national attention in 2022 when he gave $100 million to his alma mater, Boston University, to support its medical school. He directed the gift toward scholarships, a professorship, and to back research. He landed on the Chronicle’s annual Philanthropy 50 list of the biggest donors for his gifts that year.
Grounded Solutions Network
MacKenzie Scott gave $12 million through her Yield Giving grant maker, the latest in a line of new donations she’s given so far this year. The nonprofit works to shape housing policies, develop affordable-housing programs, address racial wealth and homeownership gaps, and assist community groups and local governments working on long-term affordable-housing efforts. The gift is unrestricted.
Scott is a novelist who helped create Amazon with former husband Jeff Bezos. She is one of the wealthiest women in the world and has given more than $14 billion to at least 1,600 charities since 2020. She appeared on the Chronicle’s annual Philanthropy 50 list of the biggest donors in 2020.
University of California at Los Angeles
Adjunct professor Lawrence (Larry) Harding Jr. pledged $4.1 million to the department of atmospheric and oceanic sciences to establish the Lawrence Harding Endowed Chair, which will be held by a professor with expertise in oceanography. The chair is named for the donor’s late father, Lawrence (Wayne) Harding, who attended the university in the late 1940s and played first base for the university’s baseball team.
Larry Harding came to UCLA as a visiting scholar in 2011 and was appointed adjunct professor in 2012. His research interests include biological oceanography, the physiology and ecology of marine phytoplankton, aircraft and satellite remote sensing of marine environments, and the effects of climate on estuaries.
He served as program director of biological oceanography at the National Science Foundation from 2008 to 2010, and earlier in his career he worked as a scientist at Johns Hopkins University’s Chesapeake Bay Institute and as a research professor at Horn Point Laboratory, part of the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science.
BC3 Education Foundation
Charles Timothy (Tim) Shaffer left the fundraising arm of the the Butler County Community College, in Butler, Pa., $3 million, half of his estate, to establish a scholarship in memory of his late parents, John and Jean Kaufman Shaffer, and support another one that he created in 2010 in memory of his only sibling, John (Stephen) Shaffer, a Navy veteran and member of the college’s inaugural class who was killed in an automobile crash at age 23 in 1967.
Tim Shaffer was a lawyer who served as a Republican member of the Pennsylvania State Senate for the 21st District from 1981 to 1996. He later became a judge for the Butler County Magisterial District, where he served until retiring in 2015. Shaffer served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and worked as the Butler County solicitor earlier in his career. In 2018, he gave the college $1 million to establish a nursing school. He died in 2022 at 76.
Bill Ruth and Sherry Kopko Ruth gave $2.41 million. the couple both graduated from the college in 1974. They did not announce what programs their gift will support. Before they retired, the Ruths worked as teachers and athletics coaches and later led Pennsylvania’s Special Olympics track and field programs. The couple met at the college on the second day of school their freshman year.
To learn about other big donations, see our database of gifts of $1 million or more, which is updated regularly.