Gift to transform U-Michigan’s School of Art and Design

September 20, 2012

Penny and E. Roe StampsPenny and E. Roe StampsANN ARBOR—As a symbol of gratitude and recognition of the vision of Penny and E. Roe Stamps, the University of Michigan Board of Regents approved Thursday the renaming of the art-and-design school to the Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design.

The total commitment to U-M’s School of Art and Design—where Penny Stamps is an alumna (BS, Design ’66)—is $40 million, $32.5 million from the Stamps family foundations, and a $7.5 million match from the university. The transformative support makes the Stamps the most generous donors in the School of Art and Design’s history and among the most charitable benefactors to an art-and-design school in the United States.

“The depth of the Stamps’ support is hard to fathom, because it will shape students’ experiences and opportunities for decades to come,” said U-M President Mary Sue Coleman. “That is the power of this gift: its immense transformation of the U-M experience. It is creativity personified.”

The Stamps funding addresses an urgent need for universities to be affordable while fostering creativity and global citizenship in college students. The funding further adds to the Stamps’ support for programs and facilities on campus while adding Stamps Creative Work Scholarships to provide merit scholarships for a significant number of art-and-design students.

“It has been very rewarding for us to be a part of A&D’s growth and development during these past 15 years,” Penny Stamps said. “We have been pleased to see our investments in the school make a compelling difference to the school’s excellence and prominence, and our involvement has escalated as a result. We are enormously proud of the programs we support and want to ensure that they continue to benefit students for generations.”

The Stamps join such transformative donors at the U-M as Stephen M. Ross, A. Alfred Taubman, and Horace and Mary Rackham who have been honored by having schools named in recognition of their generosity.

A student drawingSchool of Art and Design: Leading the academic conversation
During their last decade of giving, the Stamps have distinguished themselves at the vanguard of today’s visionary philanthropists by creating greater opportunities for students while helping to protect and ensure the School’s prominence in perpetuity.

“This is a radical vote of confidence for the current direction of the school and the progress it has made in reinventing art/design education within a university context,” said Dean Gunalan Nadarajan, who succeeded Dean Bryan Rogers on July 1.

During Rogers’ tenure, the School of Art and Design reinvented itself to focus on unifying art-making and designing. In addition, Rogers introduced programs integrating contemporary information and imaging technologies.

A 2007 reaccreditation report of the National Association of Schools of Art & Design offered support for the school’s direction. The report noted: “The visitors found every aspect of the program, curriculum, students, faculty, exhibition venues, and lecture, exciting…all agreed that if there were an option to start over from scratch, this is the program that would be built, and that the School of Art and Design and the University of Michigan have created an opportunity to lead the academic conversation in Art and Design in this country.”

The Stamps, according to Nadarajan, are an integral part of the School’s transformation. “They are ensuring our ability to build and refine this vision as we move forward,” he said.

Renaming the school illuminates the Stamps’ legacy, and places them among the university’s most generous and discerning donors.

“Placing an individual’s name on a school or college carries deep, lasting significance at the University. It validates impact and vision, and few individuals embody that more at Michigan than Penny and Roe Stamps,” said Laurence B. Deitch, chair of the Board of Regents. “This is an historic day that focuses on our future as a great university.”

The gift coincides with U-M’s recent efforts to recognize the vital role of the arts within the university. In the past eight years, the university has committed $84 million to the arts, including $5 million for art studio space for School of Art and Design faculty and graduate students, support for the U-M Symphony Band tour of China, $9 million for the building addition to the University of Michigan Museum of Art, and programmatic initiatives at the A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

“The Stamps gift provides us with much-needed resources in supporting creative work at the university,” said Philip Hanlon, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “This sends a signal to educators and other philanthropists, and is a significant investment that will continue to grow as the school pursues its other funding goals.”

Making a difference in higher education
The Stamps, who reside in Miami, Fla., are committed to continuing to play an integral role in the School of Art and Design’s ongoing transformation. At the School of Art and Design, the Stamps will continue to fund programs that bring renowned creative thinkers to campus, including The Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series, a world-class lecture series that each week brings such innovators as Bill T Jones, Philip Glass, Oliver Stone, Marina Abramovic, Laurie Anderson, Temple Grandin, Orlan, Maira Kalman, and more; as well as the Roman J. Witt Residency program and the Roman J. Witt Visitors program, inviting high profile professionals in art and design for both long and short term residencies at the School.

Stamps’ funding has also increased the visibility and reach of art/design work within the university culture through Work•Ann Arbor, a gallery space near central campus that provides undergraduate students with greater exhibition opportunities.

In addition to their exceptional support for the School of Art and Design, the Stamps will continue to contribute generously to a university-wide Stamps Scholars Program that supports approximately 72 students per year in the university’s undergraduate schools, making it one of the largest of its kind at the University of Michigan and the most selective.

In recent years, the Stamps supported an auditorium (named Stamps Auditorium) adjacent to the Walgreen Drama Center, a commons area in the Ross Academic Center, and gifts to the School of Education and College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.

Nationally, the reach of the Stamps’ philanthropy extends to health, K-12 education, veterans, environmental, and animal welfare issues. Through their foundations, the Stamps support about two-dozen scholarship programs at other schools in the United States.

Penny and E. Roe Stamps: Background
Raised in Chicago, Penny Stamps was educated at the University of Michigan School of Art and Design, which led to a lifelong passion for design. She founded—and, until the mid-1990s, served as principal designer for—the Boston-based Penny W. Stamps Interiors.

Now retired, Penny continues to make design central to her life, through the design of several of the family residences, her tropical garden, and the award-winning interior of the family boat as well as through her ongoing commitments to advancing the arts and art-and-design education. Penny currently serves on the U-M President’s Advisory Group and chairs the Dean’s Advisory Council at the School of Art and Design. She served as co-chair of the U-M Michigan Difference Campaign, which raised $3.2 billion, and received the David B. Hermelin Award for Fundraising Volunteer Leadership, the highest recognition the university bestows on fundraising volunteers.

E. Roe Stamps, a graduate of Georgia Tech and Harvard Business School, has led a distinguished career as a financier and venture capitalist. He is cofounder and managing partner of Summit Partners, a growth equity investment firm in Boston. A recipient of the Outstanding Service Award by the National Venture Capital Association, and most recently the Alumni Achievement Award from the Harvard Business School, Stamps is an advocate for raising public awareness of the role venture capitalism plays in creating a vibrant 21st-century global economy. An avid bicyclist, Roe frequently begins his day with a 40-mile ride. He is also a jazz enthusiast and jazz pianist.

In addition to its ongoing transformation as a leading art-and-design program, the Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan, the faculty and students are distinguishing themselves internationally in many ways, including:

  • Four Guggenheim fellowships awarded to fulltime faculty in each of four years between 2009–2012.
  • Appointment of five Thurnau Professorships, the highest undergraduate teaching award at the U-M; School of Art and Design faculty have now received more Thurnau awards as a percentage of full-time faculty than any other U-M school or college.
  • Implementation of a requirement for all graduate and undergraduate students to have an international experience, the only U-M school to have such a requirement.
  • Integration of the school throughout the University through faculty joint appointments in the College of Engineering, Ross School of Business, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Department of Physics in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, among others.


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