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PUC Announces Largest Single Cash Gift in College’s History

Staff Writer, June 5, 2014
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On June 3, Pacific Union College’s President, Heather J. Knight, Ph.D., announced the receipt of the largest single private gift in the college’s 132-year history, a $2.4 million testamentary gift from the late Stephen Ball, a twenty-year resident of the Napa Valley. The gift is for the unrestricted support of Pacific Union College’s mission.

“We are grateful for this transformational and historic gift,” said Knight. “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 is on a historic upward trajectory. This gift is truly a blessing for our campus community.”

Born in 1944 in Berkeley, California, Stephen Ball attended Armstrong College, a private liberal arts college in Berkeley specializing in business management. He relocated to the Napa Valley in 1994, and lived in St. Helena until his death in April.

“Stephen was a generous soul, and he appreciated those around him who made a difference in the community,” said longtime friend Susan Baxter. “Pacific Union College is such an asset to the Napa Valley community, and Stephen wanted to support the mission of the college.”

Pacific Union College is currently engaged in the planning phase for a major philanthropic campaign, the Heritage Campaign, which will encompass a variety of signature projects in support of the college’s long-term vision and mission.

“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, PUC’s vice president for advancement and alumni relations. “Mr. Ball’s generosity will be the bright spark that helps bring this vision to life.”

Pacific Union College, Napa Valley’s only four-year college, currently enjoys its highest enrollment in 24 years at 1678 students, and its freshman to sophomore retention rate has increased from 71% to 85% over the past three years. Pacific Union College’s students and faculty continue to receive national awards and distinctions for their work in the fields of music and fine arts, nursing, psychology and social work, physics, biology, and theology among others. Pacific Union College is recognized as a National Liberal Arts College by U.S. News & World Report, and is renowned for very high acceptance rates to medical school and dental school, as well as prestigious graduate programs.