Susan Tamny Jones, 1945-2017

Tributes paid to fundraiser who transformed the fortunes of the University of Miami

January 25, 2018
Susan Tamny Jones

A fundraiser who helped to bring more than $3 billion (£2.2 billion) to the University of Miami has died.

Susan Tamny Jones was born in June 1945 in Annapolis, Maryland, but, as the daughter of a US Navy officer, grew up all over the country, including spells in Florida, Texas and Rhode Island. She went on to study at the University of Florida.

She spent more than two decades at the University of Miami, eventually becoming head of the Division of University Advancement. It was here that she played a central role in the major capital campaigns – “Momentum 1” and “Momentum 2” – that took place during the presidency of Donna Shalala (2001-15). The first of these set an ambitious target of $1 billion, which was achieved ahead of schedule, the first time that a private university established in the 20th century had reached such a figure. It eventually attained $1.4 billion in 2017.

“Momentum 2” proved equally successful. Launched in 2012 to raise a further $1.6 billion, it too achieved its goal more than a year ahead of schedule, in 2015. This included 261 gifts of more than $1 million each, and the funds led to the creation of 30 endowed chairs and professorships. Between them, these two initiatives spearheaded by Ms Jones helped to transform the Miami campus with state-of-the-art research centres and classrooms, and also underwrote numerous scholarships and awards, while supporting efforts to attract leading scholars.

Professor Shalala described Ms Jones as “a critical leader in building the University of Miami into a first-tier university. I treasured her guidance and friendship over the years.”

“Susan’s ever-present personal touch,” added Julio Frenk, Miami’s current president, “was the touchstone by which many University of Miami donors became lifelong Hurricanes [committed supporters, named after Miami’s sports teams]. She loved bringing people together for a common cause, and the university is stronger and more responsive for it.”

Ms Jones’ achievements at Miami were also reflected in her induction into the Iron Arrow Society, the highest honour that the university bestows.

In addition to her day job at the university, Ms Jones was strongly committed to the local community, serving on the boards of the Riviera Country Club and a number of volunteer organisations. Generous with her fundraising skills, she also chaired events and organised a ball for the American Red Cross, which honoured her with a Sarah Hopkins Woodruff Award at its 2006 Spectrum Awards for Women.

Ms Jones died on 25 December 2017 and is survived by her husband, Edgar Jones, two sons and two granddaughters.

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