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The Brown family gives back to UA

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Courtesy of Chris Mooney

Sarah Smallhouse, the daughter of Thomas R. Brown, is the president of the Thomas R. Brown Foundation. The foundation has donated more than $26.6 million in gifts to the UA.

Alumni and community members are encouraged by the UA to give back and help the university through donations, and one family in particular has made a noticeable impact.

The Brown family, through the Thomas R. Brown Foundations, has contributed more than $26 million to the UA throughout the years. The foundation is named for Thomas R. Brown, a graduate of MIT and Harvard University, who founded the Burr-Brown Corporation, a local technology company.

Burr-Brown, which started off small, emerged as a billion dollar company when Texas Instruments purchased the company in 2000. Brown said he believes that everyone has the potential to achieve greatness through education and diligence, according to the foundation’s website.

“We envision a society that embodies educational excellence and opportunities, and innovative solutions to community challenges,” TRBF’s website says.

The foundation supports several civic projects through grants and partnerships, such as Imagine Greater Tucson, a program devoted to infrastructural development. It also supports the Sonoran Institute and the Flinn Foundation, which features the Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Academy, a program devoted to the education of future leaders.

“The Brown Foundation has always been very dedicated in its goal of improving the quality of life for the Tucson community and with the idea of helping people succeed through education,” said Brad Halvorsen, vice president of communications for the Flinn Foundation.

At the UA, TRBF contributes to scholarships, such as the Arizona Assurance scholarship. Former UA President Robert N. Shelton praised the foundation in 2010 when it endowed Arizona Assurance with a gift of $2 million.

Edith Auslander, consultant of the Arizona Assurance program from the UA Foundation, said the foundation is a good friend of the university and helps the UA in many different ways.

Alex Robie, senior coordinator for Arizona Assurance, said donors like the TRBF help scholarships like theirs “remain alive.”

“They are the reason we can offer our services and help more students go to college,” Robie said.

The foundation also supports scholarships for the Eller College of Management and the College of Engineering. More recently, it has pledged $2.5 million to the Tech Launch Arizona Catapult Fund, also known as “Cat Fund,” an initiative established to provide capital to emerging startup companies composed of those with licensed UA IP.

Aside from scholarships, Brown has also supported UA programs such as BIO-5 Keep Engaging Youth in Science, the Mexican National Council for Science and Technology and the College of Engineering’s Robotics Camp.

The foundation also contributes toward many non-UA institutions, mainly in Southern Arizona. Targets of its donations include Pima Community College, the Tucson Medical Center, the Pima County Public Library and the Sunnyside Unified School District.

Today, the foundation is led by Brown’s daughters, Mary Bernal and Sarah Smallhouse. As president of the foundation, member of the UA Foundation’s Board of Trustees, Arizona NOW and an UA alumni of the Eller College’s MBA program, Smallhouse said she believes that the foundation will continue to support the UA just as they have always done.

—Follow Michel Sanchez @DailyWildcat


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