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U of M McNamara Academic Center
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McNamara Academic Center History

“When your success passes your wildest dreams, it’s time to give back. If I lived five lifetimes, I could not repay the University what I owe it.”

-Richard “Pinky” McNamara, B.A. ’56

Pinky McNamaraFrom humble beginnings in Hastings, Minnesota, Richard F. “Pinky” McNamara attended the University of Minnesota on an athletic scholarship and was a three-year letter winner for the Golden Gopher football team. McNamara graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1956 and went on to become a well known entrepreneur and philanthropist.

In 1997, he received the University’s prestigious Outstanding Achievement Award. McNamara served as a trustee of the University of Minnesota Foundation and was named to the Board of Regents in 2001.

Determined to share the fruits of his successes, Pinky McNamara left an indelible mark at the University with his generosity by making numerous gifts in support of improving student life. In 1998, he donated $10 million to his alma mater, which at the time, was the second largest gift ever received by the University of Minnesota from a living alumnus.

“If I lived five lifetimes, I couldn’t repay the University of Minnesota for what it has meant in my life and my career,” McNamara said at the time of his historic gift. “I had academic advisers and teachers who guided me and saved my academic life with their dedication. I hope that what I am doing will encourage other alumni to consider giving back to the University, which has made such a difference not only in our individual lives, but in the collective life of the state.” Among other things, the gift was used to improve the undergraduate student experience in liberal arts and intercollegiate athletics, including the McNamara Academic Center for Student-Athletes, which was formally rededicated in March 27, 2001 and named in honor of “Pinky” McNamara. In addition, $3 million of his gift went to help build the McNamara Alumni Center--a building that was finished in 2000, bears McNamara’s name, and has among its many tenants the Board of Regents.

Since its beginning in 1983, the McNamara Academic Center for Student-Athletes has expand­ed over the years to become one of the largest academic support programs for student-athletes in the country. The staff in the center has developed a comprehensive academic and student-athlete welfare program to enhance the overall experience of Gopher student-athletes while they work to obtain their degree.

This well-known entrepreneur, philanthropist, former University of Minnesota Regent and for­mer Golden Gopher football player passed away, May 23, 2011. His example of giving inspires all who enter our doors.