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Papp's service to ASU Foundation 'inspiring to others'

September 25, 2013

Harry Papp knows what it means to serve. From wild animals to bottom lines, he has volunteered his time and expertise to advance such community treasures as the Phoenix Zoo, Community Health Charities of Arizona, The Desert Botanical Garden, The Phoenix Art Museum, Ballet Arizona and Arizona State University’s Institute of Human origins.

And while his community service seemingly knows no boundaries, Papp, managing partner and portfolio manager at L. Roy Papp & Associates, is stepping down from his voluntary role as chair of the ASU Foundation for A New American University’s investment committee in September, after serving the nonprofit for nearly 10 years. He will remain a member of the investment committee and a member of the ASU Foundation board of directors, focused on growing planned gifts to the foundation while continuing to support and advance the university.

“My association with the ASU Foundation has been very rewarding,” says Papp, who also serves in the Arizona State Treasurer’s office as one of four Board of Investment members. “I have found through my investment committee involvement that the foundation lives to serve ASU. There are dedicated volunteers, foundation staff and friends from the university who all work together to support the mission that Michael (ASU President Michael M. Crow) and the Arizona Board of Regents have set out.

“It has been a pleasure and a privilege to serve as chair and represent the generous investors who support and advance ASU,” Papp adds.

Papp was recruited as a foundation board member in 2004 by then-CEO Lonnie Ostrom, who recognized Papp’s investment experience. In addition to his responsibilities on the board, Papp has worked on the foundation investment committee since accepting Ostrom’s invitation and has chaired the eight-person group since 2005. The committee is responsible for more than $600 million in investment assets for the foundation and ASU, setting appropriate asset allocations, risk control, spending policies and overseeing the operation of an overall investment strategy that is sound and appropriately aligned with current market conditions. Since fiscal year 2004, the foundation’s total endowment has increased 123 percent, growing from $248 million to $553 million, as of June 2013.

“The responsibilities of the committee are taken very seriously,” says Papp. “We have modernized the investment portfolio and made it much more sophisticated. The past 10 years have been a challenging time in the investment market, but the foundation portfolio has performed well, in part because of the changes we’ve implemented.”

R.F. “Rick” Shangraw Jr., ASU Foundation CEO, says Papp’s contributions to the foundation exceed his leadership of the investment committee.

“Harry serves as an example to all of what servant-leadership represents,” says Shangraw. “As we seek ways to better serve and expand our partnerships with our valued donors, Harry has been an instrumental voice in the advancement of their goals and objectives. He has served unselfishly, and his high standards and passion for this university have been an inspiration to others.

“He will be missed as the chair of the investment committee,” Shangraw says, adding, “but his continued service as a foundation director and an investment committee member will help us to advance ongoing planned giving initiatives.”

Papp credits his Chicago roots and education with instilling his community-service ethic. A graduate of the University of Chicago with a master's in geochemistry and an MBA, he says the opportunity to provide support to today’s young learners is a driving force in his volunteer commitments.

“I was fortunate enough to receive an excellent education and I want the kids of Arizona who are willing to work hard to have the same opportunities I had in life,” says Papp, whose wife Rose received her MBA from Northwestern University. “The organizations Rose and I support, including ASU and the ASU Foundation, do vital work throughout our community.

“I share Dr. Crow’s vision to make education in Arizona excellent, accessible and affordable, and I appreciate the public-private partnership at ASU that allows him and his team to make available a cutting-edge product to all qualified students,” adds Papp.

Virginia “Ginny” Foltz, foundation vice president, CFO and treasurer, has worked with Papp for nearly nine years. Under his leadership on the investment committee, she says, the foundation portfolio has grown during a difficult economy and that Papp infused a collaborative spirit within the group.

“The role of investment committee chair is a demanding one, especially when you think about the volatile markets and world-changing events of the past decade,” says Foltz, who joined the foundation in 2005. “Harry’s untiring service and willingness to volunteer his time and expertise is indicative of his commitment to our donors, the university and its advancement. He was involved in countless discussions with donors and investment managers outside of his direct duties to the committee. 

“Rarely have I seen a volunteer so enthusiastic and dedicated in his support of an organization.”

Roger Wittlin, a managing director at Silver Lake, will replace Papp as committee chair.