UIndy receives second largest philanthropic gift in the history of the university, totalling $4.1 million

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The University of Indianapolis announced it was the beneficiary of a legacy grant from the Christel DeHaan Family Foundation, totaling more than $4 million, according to UIndy 360. DeHaan was an entrepreneur, philanthropist and co-founder of RCI, the vacation exchange company, according to Christel House. This grant will support the Center for Global Engagement and the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center for years to come, according to Vice President of Advancement Philip Thornton. The grant will be divided up between the two: $3 million will be gifted to the CGE and $1.1 million will be gifted to the CDFAC.

“The total amount of the gift is $4,122,000, and this will be part of our endowment,” Thornton said. “So what that means is we are going to invest that money and that will provide income in various ways to two key parts of campus in perpetuity. So that means we will be receiving this annual income from that portion of our endowment forever. So it allows Christel’s generosity to live on forever in support of the University of Indianapolis.”

DeHaan had a long-standing relationship with UIndy since her philanthropic support of the University began in 1992, Thornton said. DeHaan supported many areas of UIndy, according to Thornthon, as she knew the impact of education. Education was so important to her that she created Christel House, a place for low-income families to earn free, private K-12 education, Thornton said.

“Christel DeHaan was an innovative business woman and a long time trustee at the University of Indianapolis,” Thornton said “She was known around the world as a visionary philanthropist, and one of her passions was supporting UIndy and our students. Christel was a big believer in the power of education and how it can change lives and change people’s outcomes and change communities. She just felt very drawn to what UIndy is doing for our students and how we’re setting them up for success, and she wanted to be a part of that.”

This gift is the second largest philanthropic gift in the history of the university, Thornton said. He said the largest gift was $5 million from Yvonne Shaheen in 2015. 

DeHaan especially had a passion for travel and the arts, according to Thornton. Her gift to the university will create expanded opportunities for the Center for Global Engagement and support the CDFAC for years to come, Thornton said. 

“She wanted to make a difference around the world, and she wanted to create globally conscious citizens and graduates …” Thornton said. “It’s going to truly enhance the international feel of our university and provide those really unique opportunities for our Greyhounds to experience other cultures. With her gift, the endowed gift to support the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center, this is truly going to create permanent support to enhance the Fine Arts Center. This will allow for income perpetuity  to enhance or renovate physical spaces, rooms, also enhance equipment In there and any future, potential renovations or remodeling in that building. This will provide annual permanent support to make sure that the Fine Arts Center remains a world class facility.“

DeHaan’s legacy will live on at UIndy for years to come, Thornton said. Her generous support has made an impact on the university for over 30 years according to Thornton, through the CDFAC, scholarships and the Center for Global Engagement.

“This gift is really a testament to the strong future of the University of Indianapolis,” Thornton said.

Graphic by Mia Lehmkuhl

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