Friends UC: a key ally for the university

Friends of Catholic University in Chile, Inc. (Friends UC) has as its mission to support the Catholic University in its initiatives and projects. The philanthropic entity, which recently gathered in the «Big Apple» for its board meeting, seeks to continue attracting donors in the United States and to involve more alumni living in that country so that, together, they can continue to help the Catholic University, especially in scholarship programs.

The sun was shining brightly over the tall buildings of Manhattan during the last days of October in New York, even though the trees were already showing the coming of winter. That warmth was also experienced during the recent board meeting of Friends of Catholic University in Chile, Inc (Friends UC), an organization based in the United States whose mission is to collaborate with the Catholic University, both through the support it provides to projects that are carried out under the auspices of the university, as well as through its own programs. 

The non-profit organization is made up of 21 directors, both Chilean and American, from very diverse disciplines and geographic areas, who have in common deep ties with the Catholic University. 

«We have learned a lot from this joint work,» says Rector Ignacio Sánchez. «Friends UC has been able to attract important resources for the university that have been channeled through the foundation based in the United States. We have been able to receive contributions from Chileans abroad and from Americans who have been very impressed by what the university is doing in Latin America». 

As Patricio Donoso, provost for Institutional Managerial Affairs and treasurer of the philanthropic organization, adds, «Friends UC has been in these years a great engine for the Catholic University. Hundreds of students have benefited from its two programs, but it has also allowed us to receive resources in the United States for relevant initiatives such as Endowment UC, Radio Beethoven and Elige Educar, to name just a few, from donors who trust in its transparency and management capacity. Therefore, it is a key ally for the future of our institution».

From a practical point of view, as its president, lawyer and alumna Sava Thomas, explains: «Friends is important for the university for many reasons, but mainly because as a foundation in the United States it can receive donations from individuals and organizations that will enjoy a tax benefit in this country».

Support for UC students

In the context of its second board meeting of 2022, last October 20 and 21, Friends UC carried out several activities. One of the most relevant was the colloquium entitled «Chile post referendum: towards common ground», which had four outstanding speakers: the sociologists Eugenio Tironi, member of the Advisory Council of the UC School of Government, and Eduardo Valenzuela, former dean of the UC School of Social Sciences; the historian and professor of the Catholic University Ana Maria Stuven, and the former Minister of Transport and Telecommunications René Cortázar. From Chile and connected by Zoom, the four experts shared their reading of the results of the constitutional plebiscite and outlined the scenarios that open up for the country. This discussion, which was moderated by Rector Sanchez, also included the participation of a group of alumni living in the United States, who connected from locations such as Los Angeles, Miami, Dallas, Boston and Denver.

For Sava Thomas, the latter is key. The lawyer reveals that she has many dreams, «but the main one is to expand our list of donors every day and involve alumni living in the United States so that, together, they can help the Catholic University in its extraordinary trajectory,» she says. 

Rector Sánchez agrees with this vision of the future and says that it is key to look for new ways of seeking resources and, precisely, to attract donations from UC alumni who have put down roots in the United States, especially considering that philanthropy is a practice deeply engrained in the culture of this country. 

«In Chile we have to build a cultural change that means that people are grateful and committed to the institutions that have been important in their formation. That is why, through Giving Day UC and other initiatives, which have been discussed for years within Friends UC and which we have been able to implement, we are seeking to capture these new resources and attract the commitment of our alumni. All this we have developed in Friends UC», expresses the rector and adds: «I think that in the next five to ten years, Friends UC will continue contributing to the university in this culture of philanthropy, and opening the doors to continue developing projects together».

As is traditional, the board meeting concluded with a concert and dinner at the home of Sava and Roger Thomas, the latter secretary of the non-profit organization. The concert featured works for piano, cello and violin by Dvorak, Haydn, Beethoven and Wieniawski performed by the Omega Ensemble, a group of talented young musicians. 

The entity will meet again in April 2023, this time in Chile. This will be a very special year, as it marks its 20 years of trajectory together with the UC. As the rector Ignacio Sánchez concludes: «A big thank you to Friends UC, to all the directors, hoping for a great future for the foundation and the relationship with the Catholic University».