Campus Life

Local family leaves $770k legacy gift to impact future of UWF Football and academic student success

The University of West Florida announced today a legacy gift totaling more than $770,000 from the estate of John Thayer and Joan Ames Burr. Of the total gift, $250,000 will go toward UWF athletics as the lead gift for UWF Football, and more than $500,000 will support high impact and undergraduate research initiatives in the College of Science, Engineering and Health.

Tim Burr, who attended the press conference with his wife, Marguerite, and son, David, shared about his family’s passion for supporting higher education. Additionally, he said, it was a fitting legacy left by his parents, who were known throughout their lives for being incredibly generous in their support of those in need as well as philanthropic causes.

“My parents believed that higher education creates opportunities for people to improve themselves and the community,” T. Burr said. “They also really loved Pensacola, Gulf Breeze and the entire Northwest Florida region, so there was no better way to give back to the community than by supporting the University. It is our family’s hope that this gift furthers the University’s stature in the education community and attracts high quality students, so that together we can achieve something for the greater good.”

UWF President Judy Bense said the Burrs’ legacy will enable the University to enhance academic and athletic opportunities for current and future students.

“This gift represents one couple’s belief in the value of higher education,” UWF President Judy Bense said. “The Burrs chose to leave a lasting legacy by investing in UWF, and this is a leading example to show that every gift can have a significant impact on students, the University and the region.”

The portion of the gift designated for the College of Science, Engineering and Health will be used to establish the John Thayer and Joan Ames Burr Undergraduate Research Endowment, which will help students participating in high impact and undergraduate research initiatives to better prepare them for careers in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, fields.

“With the support of this endowment, we will be able to continue building undergraduate research programs to give our students valuable, hands-on experience they wouldn’t get otherwise,” said Dr. Michael Huggins, dean of the College of Science, Engineering and Health. “This gift will be an invaluable resource in providing students with undergraduate research stipends to lessen their financial burden, as well as funding a variety of competition teams, conferences and more. These are the types of opportunities that are crucial for transforming our students’ educational experiences and make them more competitive as they enter the professional workforce.”

The $250,000 designated for UWF Football constitutes the largest gift to date. In recognition of the Burr’s legacy gift and its impact on UWF, the UWF Field House Lobby will be named in their memory.

“As the lead gift for UWF Football, this will be instrumental in helping UWF Athletics build a solid foundation for our football program,” said Dave Scott, athletic director. “UWF Football will not only enhance our athletic department and the University, but will also provide new opportunities for our student-athletes to excel on the field and in the classroom.”

For additional information about legacy giving, visit