Investing in UMBC: Clolita Vitale ’75 makes planned gift

Clolita-4487Clolita Vitale ’75, theatre, is truly a Retriever Believer. When she first walked onto UMBC’s campus in the late 1960s, she was struck by how new the university was. She even recalls walking around on plywood planks as construction was underway. But where some might have preferred an older, established school, Vitale found UMBC’s newness exciting–a promise of things to come.

Since then, Vitale has been involved with UMBC in just about every way possible. As a student, she decided to study theatre and dance. Though she would later pursue a career in law, she says her time in the performing arts program at UMBC was critically important to her. The tight-knit community and creative ingenuity of faculty and fellow students inspired and supported her, and it’s something she’ll always remember. “They helped me find my sense of self,” she says.

Later on, when she joined the staff at UMBC, she felt that Dr. Freeman Hrabowski and the other campus leaders were supportive. They encouraged her to get involved on campus and grow professionally. Eventually, she became an Assistant Vice President and University Counsel. “They allowed me to evolve,” Vitale says. “It didn’t seem like I was in the same place standing still for 30 years.”

Even after moving on to other career opportunities, Vitale has stayed deeply connected to the campus community. She’s taken UMBC students under her wing, helping them get their start in life. And she’s supported the university with gifts to the arts (including naming two seats in the new PAHB theatre) and now with the decision to make a planned gift to the university.

That pioneering spirit that is so prevalent in UMBC’s earliest faculty and alumni is clearly present in Vitale. She invested in the place that invested in her, and she’s been proud to watch UMBC grow into a nationally recognized research university. “I feel like someone who went from the horse and buggy to the space age,” she says.

Vitale says she felt it important to give early on, even when she could only make smaller donations. “I knew that even if I only had $100, it was important to contribute,” she says. “I knew it would go to something really needed.”

There’s no doubt that Vitale’s passion for UMBC is real–her voice is full of emotion as she reflects on everything she’s experienced at the university. And now, more than 40 years after she first came to campus, Vitale continues to support UMBC. In fact, as she looked forward to retirement, she knew there was no question that she would include UMBC in her will. “You can’t take a place you’ve been associated with for so long and just forget about it,” she explains. She sees her planned gift as an opportunity to leave a legacy at the place that has so deeply impacted her life. “It means something to me,” she says. “I want to be a piece of that.”

Learn more about making a planned gift to UMBC.


A Legacy Continued: Planned gift helps ensure future of teaching award


Catherine Weber ( center)) with Dean William LaCourse and Carl Weber Excellence in Teaching Award recipients

Each year at UMBC, a faculty member is chosen to receive the Carl Weber Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching Award. It honors a faculty member from the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics for exceptional dedication to teaching as demonstrated by his or her enthusiasm, up-to-date teaching materials, effective mentoring, community service in the teaching area, approachability, rigorous learning requirements, coherent teaching philosophy and inspirational teaching style.

The award was established in 2006 by his family in memory of Dr. Weber, Assistant Professor Emeritus and founding faculty member in the UMBC Department of Biological Sciences, as a tribute to his passion for teaching.

“Carl’s enthusiasm for his teaching was infectious,” says Mrs. Weber. She adds that it’s plain to see why each award winner has been chosen throughout the years. “They’re very inspiring enthusiastic teachers. Each one has been doing something innovative as teachers.”

The award has now been given for eight years. In addition to the endowment, a number of people, including Mrs. Weber, have continued to provide annual support for the award. It has successfully created a lasting legacy for Dr. Weber, and it has also given Mrs. Weber an ongoing connection to the UMBC community.

Each year, she has a chance to meet the award recipients. “That has been very nice for me,” she explained. “It keeps his memory fresh, and it’s very gratifying to see the wonderful people who are being honored.”

Now, Mrs. Weber has taken another step to continue support for the award through a trust she created in her estate plans. It’s a contribution that will play an important role in ensuring that Dr. Weber’s passion for teaching continues at UMBC, as the award encourages and honors new and innovative approaches in the classroom for years to come.

For Mrs. Weber, it’s not only another measure of support in memory of her husband, it’s also a very practical matter of planning ahead. “I established the trust to support the ongoing recognition enabled by the award,” says Weber.

Learn more about planned giving.

A Lifetime of Giving Comes Full Circle

When she began her college search, the Honorable Wanda Keyes Heard ‘79, political science, knew very little about UMBC. But when she and her family — then living in Long Island, New York — returned from a visit to schools in the DC area, they decided to stop by the new university in Catonsville. That chance decision would change Wanda’s life.

“I fell in love with UMBC,” she says. That means a lot coming from Wanda, whose father Sterling Keyes, was a veteran educator and civil rights activist who impressed upon her from an early age the importance of education. And so she came to UMBC, where she would study political science and launch her career as a lawyer and then Baltimore Circuit Court judge.

WKH1When Wanda lost her father a year ago, she found herself making another decision about her future–the decision of what to do with her estate. In honor of her father’s legacy and her own experience at UMBC, she decided to establish a planned gift to the university.  “When you leave the earth, you can’t take it [money] with you,” she explains. “What better way is there to honor your life than to give back? I know UMBC will make good use of the money.”

Wanda’s decision isn’t surprising. Throughout her career as a judge for the Baltimore City Circuit Court, she has been paying it forward. She’s an avid supporter of UMBC’s Second Generation scholarship, and she’s also given students–many of them from her alma mater–the opportunity to gain invaluable career experience as interns in her office. It’s that kind of experience that rounds out an education and launches careers.

As Wanda is quick to tell you, UMBC was truly where her life and career got started. “I received an excellent education there, and that set me on the road to law school and being a judge,” she says. “Once UMBC has put its print on you, you can do anything you want to.”

In Wanda’s case, that print was indelible, and was made by her experiences both in and out of the classroom. Wanda was active in the Student Government Association, joined the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority and worked as a Resident Assistant. Each and every one of those activities left a distinct mark on her, she says, and showed her the importance of getting involved with and contributing to her community. In fact, for Wanda, education, service and giving back are inextricably intertwined.

“If you went to UMBC, giving back comes naturally,” she says. And that dedication to service and giving will now come full circle. Through her planned gift to UMBC, Wanda is ensuring future generations will have the same amazing educational and career opportunities that she did.

Learn more about making a planned gift like Wanda’s.