$50M Gift From Haury Estate to Focus on Environment, Society and Southwest
An earlier $9 million contribution from the philanthropist helped build a state-of-the-art laboratory for the UA's flagship program in the study of dendrochronology. The Bryant Bannister Tree-Ring Building opened in 2013.

University Relations - Communications
Sept. 22, 2014


Agnese Haury, who died at age 90 in March 2014, was the widow of renowned UA professor Emil W. Haury and championed the research of the UA.
Agnese Haury, who died at age 90 in March 2014, was the widow of renowned UA professor Emil W. Haury and championed the research of the UA. (Photo credit: Jeff Smith)

The University of Arizona will establish a program focused on environment, society and the Southwest thanks to a significant donation made to the University of Arizona Foundation for the benefit of the UA.

Valued at more than $50 million, the gift is one of the largest in the history of the foundation and the University, and pushes the $1.5 billion Arizona NOW fundraising campaign past the billion-dollar threshold. The gift comes from the estate of Agnese Nelms Haury, a dedicated philanthropist who passed away on March 20 at the age of 90. It was formally announced on Sept. 19.


Haury's gift will support scientific and cultural studies rooted in the environment and social justice, especially in the American Southwest. Agnese Haury – who was the widow of renowned UA professor Emil W. Haury, who headed what was then the Department of Anthropology – had long been concerned about the critical challenges facing the planet and its peoples, including the preservation and understanding of valued cultures, ecosystems and landscapes; human rights and international relations; environmental change; and issues facing immigrants and indigenous peoples.


During her life, Haury developed meaningful relationships with UA researchers and students who shared her passions. She traveled worldwide while researching and writing for the United Nations, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and other organizations. She also participated in archaeological research and excavations in the U.S. and across the world, including Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Israel, France, Jordan, Mexico, China, Turkey and Mongolia.

As the founder and president of the Agnese N. Lindley Foundation, she funded many diverse projects, seeking to achieve the greatest possible impact and to support those whose work would produce significant and lasting effects. Her philanthropy extended from the preservation of cultural artifacts and biodiversity to the support of human rights for immigrants and Native Americans.


The generous gift led UA leaders, faculty and supporters to design a set of initiatives that link Haury's past support for the University to new, universitywide investments that honor her life and interests. These initiatives will address issues such as cooperation in an increasingly global and interconnected world, especially where there are growing risks of environmental change and the loss of natural and cultural diversity. (A list of the efforts that will be part of the Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice can be found below.)


"This gift to the University of Arizona will be transformative," UA President Ann Weaver Hart told a gathering assembled for the announcement. "It will not only support fellows, scholars, chairs and faculty, and their projects, but it will have a global impact. Agnese envisioned her gift in terms of worldwide reach.

"Agnese had this vision a long time ago, and our academic plan, called Never Settle, is captured in this gift. This gift will live long after everyone in this room is gone. They will know of the Haury gift."

Joaquin Ruiz, dean of the College of Science, described Haury as "an amazing person that I was fortunate to get to know while planning the new tree-ring building, which she also funded. She was kind, compassionate and very smart. This large endowment will fund programs she passionately cared about. It will create an ecosystem of activity that will make a difference worldwide."


The dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, John Paul Jones III, remarked that "Mrs. Haury's gift will have a transformative effect on the UA's capacity to respond in meaningful and impactful ways to some of the most important challenges facing the planet and its peoples." 

Strategic Philanthropy


Haury understood the importance of a world-class university, and as a philanthropist she strategically invested her money in research and scholarship. She admired scientists and social researchers who were not only exceptional in their fields but also skilled at connecting with the public, and she considered fieldwork to be the cornerstone of successful academic inquiry. She supported graduate student scholarships and academic fellowships with the understanding that building successful and top-ranked programs depends on attracting the brightest and most promising talent, sustaining their work over time, and fostering the next generation of great minds. Haury's vision was international in scope, and she recognized the importance of international cooperation and collaboration.

Diana Liverman, who co-directs the UA's Institute of the Environment, which will help coordinate the program's competitive scholarships, reflected on the timeliness and lasting impact of the gift: "It takes my breath away to see such incredible generosity. This gift will support work on environment and social justice that is critical to a sustainable and just future and where the University of Arizona can be an international leader in scholarship, teaching and outreach."


Personal friends of Haury speak universally of her intelligence and unpretentious nature; she was known to be deeply compassionate with a humanistic perspective. She rarely spent money on herself except to fill her home with beloved collections of Native American rugs, pottery and artwork. She cared deeply about issues of social justice, and felt climate change warranted more attention. Well-traveled, highly educated, progressive and cosmopolitan, she grew to be close and personal friends with a number of UA faculty and staff who shared her worldview.


"She was extraordinarily down-to-earth without any airs about her whatsoever," said David Yetman, an academic expert on Sonora, Mexico, and a researcher in the UA's Southwest Center in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Yetman's work was supported by Haury and the two grew to be friends over the years.


"Agnese did not like beating around the bush. She was very frank," Yetman said. "If there's one thing that cuts through all of her philanthropy, it's that she liked to support work that made a difference to people, that assisted researchers somewhat nontraditionally but always with an eye on making a difference in the world."


Before her death, Haury had directed her advisers to distribute her trust estate to charitable organizations that would carry on the purposes and causes that she supported during her lifetime. Those advisers – Tammy Barnett, Greg Gadarian and Mary Mangotich Grier – selected the UA and the UA Foundation for implementation of a program focused on the environment, Southwest culture, human rights and social justice.


"Agnese Haury was a loyal friend and mentor with a knack for expanding horizons," Mangotich Grier said. "She helped many younger persons, including me, to grow personally and professionally. I was inspired by the example of Mrs. Haury's fight against injustice and abuse of power, and by her generous philanthropy. I was delighted by her friendship."

A World Traveler Who Called Tucson Home


Born and raised in Houston, Haury retained a commitment to her Southwestern origins while also developing international interests, studying and then living abroad. She attended the Lycée de Jeunes Filles in Fontainebleau, France, and Bryn Mawr College, a prestigious women's liberal arts school in Pennsylvania. Working for the Carnegie Endowment, she traveled to countries including Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Libya and Burma, and authored major reports on the Indigenous peoples of the Andes.


She married Manice deForest Lockwood III and they moved to Tucson in 1965. She later married Denver Lindley, and was widowed in 1982. In 1990, she married longtime friend Emil W. Haury, a world-renowned authority on the Indigenous peoples of the Southwest and director of the Arizona State Museum. He was the first UA professor to be named to the National Academy of Sciences and among the faculty members instrumental in the formation of the University of Arizona Press in 1959. Emil W. Haury worked closely with tree-ring researchers to reconstruct the environmental history around key archaeological sites.

Tom Swetnam, director of the UA Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, noted that "Agnese was an amazing person. She knew the world from extensive travels and wide-ranging experiences in international affairs, diplomacy, conciliation, social justice, journalism, archaeology, philanthropy and many other endeavors. She was one of the wisest people I have known."

Legacy of Giving


Haury's philanthropic gifts were made quietly but carried substantial impact.


She gave generously to the School of Anthropology and to the Southwest Center. Her $9 million contribution helped build a new state-of-the-art laboratory for the UA's flagship program in the study of dendrochronology. The Bryant Bannister Tree-Ring Building – named after her friend, tree-ring scientist and former director of the laboratory – opened in March 2013.


Haury also helped establish a number of graduate scholarships to support students in a range of academic programs, and a curatorial program at the Arizona State Museum to bring in scholars for two-year fellowships. She funded various projects relating to human rights, including grants to the UA James E. Rogers College of Law in support of the college and the Immigration Law Clinic. With her support, the UA also established the Agnese Haury Institutes for Interpretation, home of the longest-running intensive Spanish-English interpreter training program in the United States.


In 1999, the UA awarded Agnese Haury an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.

A Transformative Gift


The Haury gift is intended to establish an endowment that will be used to support programs and activities including:

  • Prestigious and competitive professorships, fellowships and internships
  • Problem-solving conferences
  • Support for collaborative research
  • An international prize
  • Lectures and public events

The distribution of the endowment's proceeds will be guided by an oversight committee designed to ensure that the funds are used to greatest effect.


"Generosity like this is transformative to the University," said James H. Moore Jr., president and CEO of the UA Foundation. "Mrs. Haury's deep awareness of just how special the people are at the UA is astounding, and we couldn't be more thankful. It is donors like her who make our work on behalf of this great institution worthwhile."


Arizona NOW launched publicly in April with the goal to raise $1.5 billion in support of students, researchers and outreach – three of the core tenets of the UA's academic and educational mission. Its initiatives are in direct support of the UA's strategic plan, Never Settle. Learn more about the campaign at arizonanow.org.

Programs and Initiatives Supported by the Haury Estate Gift

  • The Agnese Nelms Haury Chairs will honor and reward outstanding senior faculty scholars working on the environment and social justice in the Colleges of Science and SBS.
  • The Agnese Nelms Haury Faculty Fellows will recognize outstanding mid-career faculty scholars who research in the areas of the environment, Southwest peoples and cultures, international cooperation and social justice. 
  • The Agnese Nelms Haury Visiting Fellows will be competitive, internationally-advertised research fellowships that bring individuals to the UA to work collaboratively on environmental and social justice issues. 
  • The Agnese Nelms Haury-Carson Graduate Scholars will enhance overall funding and research support for excellent and diverse graduate students who are studying environment and society, and will build students’ capacity to communicate their work to the public and decision makers. The program intentionally links Mrs. Haury’s name to that of famous environmentalist Rachel Carson. 
  • The Agnese Nelms Haury Undergraduate Engagement Fund will support undergraduates engaging with hands-on work in the fields of the environment and social justice, especially through internships with local organizations in Arizona and the border region, or national and international organizations focused on international cooperation and sustainability. 
  • The Agnese Nelms Haury Conferences at Biosphere 2 will focus on the overall program themes in environment and society, bringing together groups of researchers to address major challenges and deliver their insights through publications and other media. Conference themes and leaders will be selected through a competitive international process.
  • The Agnese Nelms Haury Biosphere 2 Prize will award an unrestricted prize to an early or mid-career scholar from anywhere in the world with an outstanding record of research and outreach in the program themes of environment and social justice. 
  • The Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Southwest Studies will support lectures, events, outreach programs and publications focused on the Southwest and its diverse peoples.   
  • The Agnese Nelms Haury Research Fund will promote excellence in research and provide matching monies to fund research collaborations, partnerships, and the recruitment of outstanding scholars to the UA.

More information about the Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice can be found at haury.arizona.edu.