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UB Student-Athletes to Get Boost From $1 Million Gift From Retired Food Executive, Former UB Football Player

By Jed Nitzberg

Release Date: June 13, 1994

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- University at Buffalo alumnus Arthur W. Woelfle, Jr. is providing generous support for UB student-athletes meeting specific academic standards by giving the university $1 million to create a new scholarship fund that will help them prove themselves in the classroom, as well as on the playing field.

The Arthur W. Woelfle, Jr. Athletic Scholarship Fund is named in honor of the retired chairman of Kraft, who graduated from UB in 1943.

Woelfle said his major motivation in creating the fund is the need to express his thanks to people who showed faith in his academic and athletic abilities when he was a student at UB by providing him with financial and moral support. During his years at UB, Woelfle earned varsity letters as a member of the football team.

UB President William R. Greiner praised Woelfle, noting that "his achievements, both during his days as a top scholar-athlete at UB and throughout his career as an international corporate leader, are a sterling example for our most talented student athletes. His confidence in UB sports, UB students and UB programs is immeasurably valuable to the university.

"We are extremely fortunate to be able to count Mr. Woelfle among the university's most distinguished alumni and valued friends," Greiner added.

"One of the most important examples that he sets, by making this remarkable gift, is that of giving something back, as a tribute to those who helped him during his own student days. We will encourage every Woelfle Scholar-Athlete to develop a similar understanding that helping others can be an invaluable investment in the future."

Woelfle said he believes that academics and athletics are both important. "Academics are crucial to your career, and competitive athletics develops teamwork and self-confidence, which are helpful in almost any profession," he added. "I attribute part of my success to athletics and going to a good school."

He also feels strongly that more people should make contributions -- whether monetary or through volunteer service -- in recognition of their own successes. "I've reaped the fruits of others investing in my abilities. I think other people who have been similarly successful should share with others who are deserving," Woelfle said.

Nelson Townsend, director of the UB Division of Athletics, said he is pleased with the strong links that exist between Woelfle and UB and its sports program. "Woelfle shares UB's vision for the future development of the athletic program and what it can do for the university," said Townsend. "He has always expressed a desire to support worthy academic athletes" and is pleased with the emphasis on scholarship stressed by UB's sports programs.

Giving to UB is nothing new for Woelfle, whose first gift was made in 1953. Over the years, both students and faculty at UB have benefited from his generosity.

And helping the university for Woelfle is more than giving money: He was one of the first people to be approached for, and to accept, a place on the UB Board of Visitors, a new group of voluntary advisors who will work closely with Greiner.

It is expected that Woelfle's gift will generate four or five scholarships annually. They will be awarded to deserving, first-year student-athletes, who will be required to maintain a minimum grade-point average of 2.5 in order to retain them.

Townsend said the gift is indicative of growing alumni support of UB's athletics. "I think that gifts such as this are great testimony to the value that alumni see in our program," he noted. Such scholarships, he added, are crucial for attracting excellent student-athletes who can help UB compete nationally and more prominently at the Division I level."

A close friend and former UB teammate of Woelfle's said he understands and appreciates the spirit of his gift. He recalls their time at UB as "an era when people nurtured a desire to get into college, when it wasn't taken for granted. It was true opportunity and privilege." The friend said it was a time when the friendship and support of alumni donors could help young men with athletic talent fulfill academic dreams.

As a student, Woelfle was a strong, serious-minded young man with a good sense of humor who "wanted to make good, wanted to be a team player and could be considered trustworthy and reliable on and off the field," his friend recalled. During their mid-semester breaks, he, Woelfle and other friends worked at a local sausage factory to earn money toward their school expenses.

Woelfle's gift is being made to UB through a "life-income arrangement." This popular form of giving allows the donor to transfer the money to a qualified charitable trust fund, and receive life income from the trust. After the death of the donor, the money in the trust benefits the university.