UA Alumni Association
Blog Category:
Alumni Life

The UA Alumni Association (UAAA) announces the campaign for the Stella and Swede Johnson Alumni Endowment, called "Swede's Dream," at Homecoming 2014. The endowment honors the lasting legacy of Stella and Marvin "Swede" Johnson, the ultimate team of Wildcat connectors.

While Swede Johnson served as president of the Alumni Association from 1958-63, his wife, Stella, accompanied him around the country meeting Wildcat alumni. She is well known for taking people back to Tucson through their taste buds with authentic Mexican cooking while on the road. Before technology like social media and email, Swede could be found in airport phone booths with a pocket full of quarters, calling friends and creating a Wildcat social network from the ground up.

Fifty years ago, Stella and Swede dedicated themselves to a lifetime of cultivating and nurturing Wildcat connections. Today, the Stella and Swede Johnson endowment embodies that dedication.

"The Stella and Swede Johnson Alumni Endowment was created to fulfill the mission of advancing the University of Arizona through connecting, engaging, and cultivating Wildcats for Life," said Lynn (Johnson) Engel ’76, daughter of Stella and Swede and UAAA governing board chair, 2012-13.

Engel is a founding donor to the endowment along with donors Stella Johnson ’50; Karen (Johnson) Riebe ’81, daughter of Stella and Swede; Sidney "Jack" McDuff ’51, a close family friend; and William "Billy" Chavira ’92 ’96, UAAA governing board chair, 2011-12.

"Homecoming has always been an important weekend in the Johnson family — like a family holiday. Announcing this endowment at Homecoming 100 is a special way to celebrate my father’s belief that people make up the University, they are the University,” Engel said. “Daddy always said, 'It’s not buildings and it’s not curriculum and courses and colleges; it’s people. Faculty, staff, students, friends, and alumni who care for each other and about this University.' "

During the silent phase of raising money for the endowment, 90 percent of the past chairs of the Alumni Association Governing Board participated in giving. 

The endowment has pledges and gift commitments totaling over $400,000 supporting Alumni Association programs that serve more than 260,000 UA alumni, including: a robust alumni career services program; the Student Alumni Ambassadors; faculty recognition opportunities; expanded chapter programming across the country; greater investment in Arizona Alumni Magazine; and enhanced alumni support across campus.

"The UA has always been family. Nothing would please my parents more than knowing the Alumni Association is making a difference in the lives of students, faculty, staff, and alumni at their beloved University — it is my mom and dad’s heart and soul," Engel says.