DENTON (UNT), Texas -- The University of North Texas announced today that it will receive the largest bequest in its history from the estate of Paul R. Voertman, the former owner of Denton’s iconic Voertman’s Bookstore and a local patron of art and music. Voertman died June 21, 2017, at the age of 88.
The gift, projected to be at least $10 million, is designated to the colleges of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Music and Visual Arts and Design. The funds will primarily support scholarships and fellowships, as well as research and creative activities such as the Opera Production Fund.
More than 40 percent of the bequest will be eligible to receive matching funds from the Texas Research Incentive Program (TRIP), potentially leveraging an additional $4 million to benefit research initiatives, including graduate student support.
“This gift will have a tremendous impact on UNT, our students and their opportunities for research and creative exploration today and for future generations to come,” President Neal Smatresk said. “Denton was Paul’s home, and he was a community-minded business owner who gave back to UNT and this community in so many meaningful ways.”
Voertman and Richard Ardoin, his partner of 48 years, were extremely generous to UNT during their lifetimes. Ardoin, who died in 2002, made a significant estate gift to UNT that includes a charitable trust. With Voertman’s bequest, the couple’s combined giving to UNT totals more than $15 million, making them UNT’s top donors.
“We will forever be grateful to Paul and Richard for the generosity they have shown UNT and their foresight in making their legacy a commitment to furthering education, scholarship and the arts at UNT,” Smatresk said.
The generosity of the couple’s gifts will be felt on campus for many years, said David Wolf (Ph.D. ’04), vice president for advancement.
“Paul and Richard shared a true vision to make a significant impact on UNT through their philanthropy,” Wolf said. “Their gifts go beyond a lifetime of generosity and leave an enduring legacy that spans our entire university community.”
A celebration of Voertman’s life and a concert to honor both him and Ardoin will begin at 4 p.m. Oct. 19 (Thursday) at UNT’s Murchison Performing Arts Center. The public is invited to attend.