Saying “thank you” to St. Lawrence on the University’s 150th anniversary of legacy giving.
“I was walking across the St. Lawrence campus,” Obiora Udechukwu says, “and a staff member came over to tell me about his son, who was a student of mine. He said that I had changed his son’s life. That is one of those memories that I’ll have forever, and it means so much to me.”
Having retired from his position as professor of art after 21 years, Udechukwu says the University offered him opportunities to teach, to make art, and to make a difference.
“I spent some wonderful years at St. Lawrence,” he says. “As a faculty member, I was awarded a Charles A. Dana Professorship and I received funding from the University for my research. In addition, I was able to bring prominent Africans to campus, including renowned novelist Chinua Achebe; Wole Soyinka, the 1986 Nobel Laureate for Literature; and Okwui Enwezor, one of the leading independent curators in the world.”
And, shortly before his retirement in 2018, the St. Lawrence Brush Gallery exhibited “OJEMBA: A Fifty-Year Retrospective—Selected Paintings, Drawings, and Prints by Obiora Udechukwu, 1966-2016.” Only a few Laurentians knew it, but throughout his tenure, Udechukwu had found another way to give back to his community.
“My gifts to the St. Lawrence Fund and Owen D. Young Library were a way of saying ‘thank you’ to this place and its people,” he says. “It has been a way to help the next generation of students and faculty.”
In 2021, Udechukwu contacted the University to ask about a life-income gift. Until recently, this has been a lesser-known path to give philanthropic support to St. Lawrence. This way of giving to the University ensures that the donor also receives a stream of income from the donation. Using cash, appreciated stock, and even IRA assets under the new Legacy Act, this type of gift decreases the donor’s tax liabilities while helping to support St. Lawrence. Udechukwu’s life-income gift came at an important moment in the University’s history, as this academic year marks the 150th anniversary of legacy giving.
“Over the years there have been so many Laurentians who have remembered St. Lawrence in their estate plans or supported the university with life income gifts. It’s such an easy way to pay it forward, and it makes a lasting impact for generations to come,” says Kim Hissong ’94, interim vice president of university advancement.
Nearly 800 living Laurentians have stepped forward to make legacy gifts by including St. Lawrence in their estate plan so they will continue supporting St. Lawrence students for generations to come. Udechukwu says that he was motivated by reasons that are also deeply personal.
“It is important to give back to a place that has given so much to me and many others,” he says. “I hope faculty, alumni, and parents will join me and give back to the University. I know that no matter the size of the gift, the gesture makes a positive and meaningful impact on St. Lawrence. And St. Lawrence is family. This is giving back to my family.”