Jeff and Sharon Stevens Donate $10 Million
to Athletic Department's “Vision Arizona”
DATE: Nov. 5, 2009
Jeff A. and Sharon Stevens of El Paso, Texas, today announced a personal gift of $10 million toward the University of Arizona athletic department’s “Vision Arizona” master facilities plan.
The former UA students’ gift is a leadership gift in the department’s fundraising efforts to secure the necessary financial pledges to fund the short- and long-term capital enhancement plans involving UA athletic facilities in the southeast corner of the University campus.
“Sharon and I are really excited to be part of this plan. We feel it is the absolute right time to do this, and we are excited about the future of Arizona Athletics. We feel this investment is necessary at this time to help keep the UA on par with other top programs. We feel the gift will benefit all Wildcat teams as well as the University,” Jeff Stevens said.
“The generosity of Jeff and Sharon Stevens will help empower University of Arizona Athletics to continue its mission of maintaining excellence,” said UA director of athletics Jim Livengood.
“What they’ve done is so much more than just a gift. It’s a commitment, a belief and confidence in the future of our program. Our student-athletes, coaches, staff, the university, the community and Wildcats everywhere will benefit,” Livengood said.
The gift from the couple will be used primarily to assist with funding phase one of the master plan, which includes a north end-zone football complex, stadium lighting, a scoreboard upgrade, extension of the Jimenez Practice facility and upgrades of the loge, scholarship suites, east side seating and Dan Dunlap Stadium Club.
“The department’s master plan for capital improvements, which requires Arizona Board of Regents approval, has been given a tremendous boost by this gift. While much heavy lifting is ahead, the monies the Stevenses have given are a great start toward that effort,” Livengood said.
The Stevenses met at the University of Arizona while both were students in the early 1980s. A native of Phoenix, Jeff Stevens is one of the originating partners in Western Refining Inc. of El Paso and current president, director and chief operating officer for the firm. He began in the refining business as a marketing vice president for Phoenix Fuel in 1993, and for Giant Industries when it acquired that company in 1997. He joined Western as an executive vice president in 2000.
The Stevens’ gift is the largest single donation to UA athletics, said Livengood, and among the largest ever in University of Arizona history.
“The University of Arizona has meant so much to Sharon and I, and our families. It always will remain a very special place for us. Not only have we made this financial commitment, but we’re committed to assisting the Athletics Department in the fund raising efforts,” Stevens said.
The Stevenses and Western Refining colleague Paul Foster gave $6 million to the University of Texas-El Paso in recent years for a basketball practice gym, the Foster Stevens Basketball Center, among a number of philanthropic and service efforts including annual involvement with the Sun Bowl Association. Additionally, the couple has made donations to the UA men’s golf program through fundraising efforts in the past five years, as well as sponsor a collegiate tournament in El Paso for Division I players.