Setting the Next Generation Up for Success and Sustainability

John Farnsworth

John Farnsworth’s estate gift provides SCU with an ongoing stream of revenue for advancing sustainability initiatives close to his heart.

How does literature inform our understanding of nature, and what might these texts say about how the planet looks from different perspectives? How does it expand our understanding of the interplay between humans and the natural world?

While environmental studies are typically the realm of scientists and policymakers—and not literary critics—for retired SCU faculty member John Farnsworth, literature provides a valuable way to deepen our relationship with the natural world. In his most recent book, Nature Beyond Solitude, John visits a series of field stations, taking readers on a journey with scientists, citizen scientists, rangers, stewards, and grad students working in the field.

But John’s interest in the intersection between literature and environmental studies began years before. “In the same way an English scholar might specialize in Shakespeare, my interest has always been in nature writing,” he explains.

Early in his teaching career, he was asked to develop an advanced writing course for Environmental Studies majors, “which was a new discipline in that era,” and became the first faculty member to hold a joint appointment in the English and Environmental Studies departments.

John was also instrumental in establishing Santa Clara’s Center for Sustainability in 2008, which helps the University achieve climate neutrality, encourages responsible consumerism, builds a campus culture of sustainability, and utilizes the campus as a living laboratory for developing global solutions.

Yet, with each subsequent generation of students, demand for courses in environmental studies continues to climb. “Students arriving on campus today have a much broader understanding of—and interest in—environmental studies and sustainability issues than ever before,” John says.

Since John first launched a writing course for environmental science majors, thanks to his efforts to make environmentalism part of the curriculum, the University now offers more than 1,000 courses with sustainability as the theme.

John’s recent estate gift to establish the Carol and John Farnsworth Fund for the Center for Sustainability provides an ongoing stream of revenue that allows for critical financial flexibility in sustaining and growing the Center’s programs.

Working with students has always been John’s passion, and he was awarded the College of Arts and Sciences’ highest teaching award in 2016. However, after 21 years in the classroom, John retired to devote his energy to writing full-time.

In addition to Nature Beyond Solitude, John, a prolific author, published Coves of Departure: Field Notes from the Sea of Cortez in 2018, recounting his explorations of the Baja peninsula and the Sea of Cortez. He is currently working on another manuscript about the ecology of the Pacific Northwest. “Although I still relate to the environment as a lifelong student of natural history, I’m doing so with a newfound freedom that enables me to peer differently into the world around me,” he says.

Support from John and loyal friends like you helps SCU advance our distinctive Jesuit education by investing in student scholarships and access, faculty and teaching, and the state-of-the-art Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation—all made possible by Innovating with a Mission, the Campaign for SCU. To learn how you can use your estate plan to help SCU forge the next generation of ethical leaders, please contact the Gift Planning team at 408-554-2108 or giftplanning@scu.edu today.

A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Santa Clara University a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to Santa Clara University, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95053-1400, or its successor thereto, ______________ [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to SCU or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate, or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property, or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to SCU as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to SCU as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and SCU where you agree to make a gift to SCU and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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