35 Years of Giving: A Legacy of Loyalty
It was October 1976 when Jim and Dawn Fazio made their first gift of $25 to the University of Idaho. Jim was a relatively new assistant professor in the College of Natural Resources (CNR) at the University of Idaho. Dawn was pursuing a teaching certificate to complement her Master’s degree and interest in environmental education. They had just purchased a home, were excited to explore and take advantage of the outdoor opportunities in the northwest, and recognized that Moscow was a great place to raise kids.
Now, almost 41 years (and 35 years of cumulative giving) later, Jim and Dawn continue their loyal support of the UI, Vandal students, and Idaho education. Jim is now a professor emeritus in the College of Natural Resources and freelance writer for Arbor Day Foundation. Dawn is a local business owner and long-time chair of the Moscow school district’s Board of Trustees. Why do they give? “A person ought to be supportive of the institution that supported him and so many students over the years. Education is the foundation of a strong nation. A good education provides many good things,” Jim says. “But it’s also important to get a good education while keeping borrowing at an absolute minimum.” This sentiment motivates them to continue to champion a wide variety of university initiatives that support the student experience and defray cost—from the Douglas L. Gilbert Scholarship that supports conservation communication, to the Library Dean’s Excellence Renovation Fund that resulted in a group study room dedication in their name. They have also made an additional gift in their will to the Gilbert Scholarship, which makes them members of the Heritage Society.
Lynn Baird, dean of UI libraries, states, “The Library deeply appreciates Jim and Dawn Fazio for their gift to our students, which greatly improved one of our popular group study rooms. This gift is just one example of the many ways the Fazios give back to their community. They model grateful citizenship in many ways and we can all learn from their leadership.” Jim has always felt a connection to the UI library, a critical hub for academic and professional growth, throughout his 35-year tenure as faculty. “Before the days of internet, the library never let me down. As I wrote three books, hundreds of articles, and sent countless students there for their own research, the library staff was always so helpful.”
Jim and Dawn are guided by and taught their own children the importance of integrity. It translates into their passion and commitment for education and the environment. “I have had the opportunity to know Jim and Dawn Fazio for over 40 years,” says William (Bill) McLaughlin, professor emeritus and retired dean of CNR. Bill and Jim were graduate school peers at Colorado State University then colleagues at University of Idaho. “They are two of the most dedicated individuals to education and nature conservation I have had the privilege to know. Dawn has kept a focus on promoting quality primary and secondary education. Jim has proven himself in every aspect of higher education. He created a world-recognized program in Resource Recreation Management. Under his innovative leadership, the program blended the history and philosophy of conservation with the practical capacities of resource management. Jim and Dawn offer all of us a model of how to bridge the town and gown divide. As a couple, they operate several successful small businesses, and remain committed to making the university and our community a better place. In life, there are those special people who are constantly making a difference. Jim and Dawn do this in their quiet and unassuming way, which always involves thinking about the needs of others.”
Through their years of community service, work, travel, and family, Jim and Dawn always made the conscious choice of supporting the University of Idaho. Jim says, “It is a school that is small enough for faculty and staff to get to know the students, but large enough to have important amenities. It is a strong blend of small and large.”
“Jim and Dawn have contributed to bettering the lives of so many students and faculty in their 43-year association with the UI,” says Nick Sanyal, colleague and professor in CNR. The University of Idaho is proud to honor their dedication and 35 years of cumulative giving through the Loyal Donor Program.