Spring 2020

Providing Resources for Powerful Change

Donors partner with the university to help students learn.

Patricia and Bruce Bartlett are the most generous donors to the University of Arizona’s Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques Center and longtime university supporters. They’re former educators and the parents of Benjamin Bartlett ’10.

“Our family joke is that Ben came to Arizona and graduated, and we stayed,” says Patricia Bartlett.

Patricia and Bruce Bartlett

The Bartletts’ generosity illustrates the potential for private donors to partner with the university through the 360 Initiative.

“The SALT Center is an excellent example of a program that is much more robust than it otherwise would be because of generous supporters, including the Bartletts,” says University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins.

The SALT Center is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. When it was founded, three students used its services. Now, 700 students make 30,000 annual visits for comprehensive individualized assistance with learning and attention challenges.

The Bartletts have made gifts to the SALT Center for scholarships, operations and student wellness services such as counseling. Their most recent gift to the university of $10 million helped provide a running start for the 360 Initiative. The SALT Center received $8 million, and the remainder is split between recruitment scholarships and Arizona Health Sciences, where it will be used to support medical research into issues affecting learning.

This gift is earmarked for several purposes within SALT, including establishing a new multidisciplinary research effort that will be known as Bartlett Labs.

A primary goal of Bartlett Labs is to unite the international research community in advancing understanding of issues that impact learning and attention challenges for undergraduate students. Another is to ensure that Arizona students benefit from the resulting research.

“We don’t know of another major university that’s doing anything like this. It’s a transformational gift, and that’s not an overstatement,” says SALT Center Executive Director Gabrielle Miller.

Patricia Bartlett hopes the research will give instructors a broader range of evidence-based techniques for teaching undergraduates with different learning styles.

“We need to learn more and find the best ways to fully engage students so we can help them along the way in a university setting,” she says.

“If you accept students at a university, you need to give them that support.”