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Fulton gives $50 million to endow School of Engineering at ASU

Published June 27, 2003

Ira A. Fulton, chief executive officer of Fulton Homes, Inc., one of Arizona’s and the nation’s preeminent residential builders, announced June 26 a $50 million gift to the ASU Foundation for the benefit of the College of Engineering & Applied Sciences.

The gift, which will endow the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering at ASU, will provide funding for scholarships, fellowships, research programs and investments in faculty to enable the school of engineering to move from its position as a highly ranked U.S. program into the ranks of world-class institutions. According to U.S. News & World Report, the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering begins its history ranked 37th in the United States for its undergraduate programs and 56th for its graduate programs in engineering.

“I have an enduring passion for technology, for education and for the people of Arizona,” said Fulton. “And I strongly believe you can’t have a great city without a great school of engineering. I am pleased to make this gift, knowing it will enable ASU to grow into one of the highest ranked, most visible schools of engineering in the world.

“At Fulton Homes we build communities that will stand the test of time. With this endowment, we are building an engine of educational and economic growth that will endure for generations. It is a gift of opportunity, prosperity, social equality and hope,” Fulton said.

“We are grateful to Mr. Fulton for his vision, commitment and trust in our ability to turn his investment into use-inspired engineering research and education that will transform the future,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “This is not only a gift to ASU, but a gift to the people of Arizona and this nation.

“Ira Fulton is a man of principle and vision, who has spent his life as an entrepreneur,” said Crow. “For the last 28 years, he has focused his creative energy on building communities for the people of Arizona. More importantly, Fulton Homes donates 50 percent of its profits to worthy causes, primarily toward enhancing the education of young people.”

Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering Dean Peter Crouch said, “This gift will be used to attract and retain preeminent scholars and exceptional students in engineering and the applied sciences. With this gift, we will distinguish ourselves internationally at the transformational edge of a number of research and education fields. We will expand and enhance important existing programs, such as enabling the paralyzed to walk and the blind to see, developing new materials to make highways quieter and safer, modeling chemical agents and airborne particles to block terrorist attacks, and providing clean, fresh water to meet the world’s needs.”

Fulton was born in Tempe. He started working at age 6, and by age 11 became a newspaper courier for the Arizona Republic. He eventually became the paper’s number one carrier, serving a route that included ASU’s main campus.

After attending ASU on a football scholarship, he went to work for NCR, where he rose to the position of National Salesman of the Year. Subsequently, he formed his own companies, serving the computer needs of other businesses.

In 1974, he began consulting for Eagleson’s Big and Tall men’s clothiers, a company that was on the edge of bankruptcy. Within two years, he purchased the company, turned it around, and expanded it from two retail outlets to 33, with millions of dollars in sales.

He used the cash flow from his clothing business to start Fulton Homes, which he grew from building several homes a year to its present annual volume of around 1,500 residential units. Along the way, he built an organizational culture of quality, customer satisfaction and service, both to the company’s customers and to the communities in which they operate.

The Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering provides a transformative educational experience for engineering, computer science and construction students, giving them the knowledge and skills they need for success in a technically oriented career. The school also engages in use-inspired research in a multidisciplinary setting, creating knowledge for the benefit of individuals, society and the environment. Through the creation of a highly educated, innovative workforce and the advancement of technical knowledge, the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering drives sustainable growth and improved quality of life for the communities it serves.

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