More than Money
When it comes to making a donation to the University of Wyoming, cash is always welcome, but it’s not the only way to support the university and its students. Gifts of tangible personal property can also be valuable and help further UW’s mission.
When Ken Witzeling was 15, while working in a drug store, his boss, Gordon Gill—one of Wisconsin’s largest coin collectors—gifted Ken an 1864 two-cent piece. Ken had been collecting Lincoln Head pennies, but that coin started the expansion of his collection. In addition to inspiring Witzeling’s passion, Gill was also a mentor who taught Witzeling everything he knew about collecting coins.
“Coin collecting is a personal thing,” says Witzeling. “It’s what you enjoy and what you look for and the different varieties, and it may not mean as much to somebody else.”
Witzeling started collecting in 1939 and continued for 70 years. His collection contained 4,000–5,000 coins and consisted of both American and foreign coinage.
In 2013, Witzeling and his wife donated the collection to the University of Wyoming to create the Kenneth and Elizabeth Witzeling Pharmacy Scholarship endowment. This scholarship will be awarded to year two through year four pharmacy students from Park County, Wyoming, with a GPA of 3.0 or higher and demonstrated financial need.
Witzeling came to the University of Wyoming from the University of Wisconsin to obtain his degree in pharmacy. When he graduated in 1951, he was the second class to go through UW’s pharmacy program.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity that we had (at Wyoming),” explains Witzeling. “I enjoyed my time there. We had great instructors and I really came away with a great foundation. It was a way of repaying not only Wyoming but the university for providing me with a great education.
“I had been discharged from Lowry Field at the end of World War II, and I really liked this part of the country. When I heard about Wyoming starting a pharmacy school, I applied.”
After graduation, he took a job at a store in Worland, where he became a partner and worked for 15 years. After selling out, he moved to Powell in 1967 and purchased a store, where he worked until 1989. Wyoming is his home, and he has deep ties to the University of Wyoming. Not only did he obtain his degree from the university, but both of his sons also graduated from UW.
“I still feel that was a very good break in my life when I came out to Wyoming,” says Witzeling. “I had been discharged in Colorado and I liked the West, but Wyoming really gave us a chance when we came out there to the university.”
He hopes to give other pharmacy students the same opportunities by supporting them with scholarships, which were made possible through his passion for collecting coins. Future generations of students will be able to benefit from Witzeling’s hobby and desire to help others.
The Donation Process
Tangible personal property, as defined by IRC Section 48 and in IRS Publication 526, is “any property, other than land or buildings, that can be seen or touched. It includes furniture, books, jewelry, paintings and cars.”
The process of donating gifts of tangible personal property to the University of Wyoming first involves making sure the donation is right for the university and that the wishes of the donor can be fulfilled.
“Sometimes, people aren’t cash rich, but they’re looking for a way to make a gift, and these other assets are a way to do it,” says Tracy Richardson, Senior Associate Vice President for Planned Giving at the UW Foundation. “It’s more of looking at someone’s mix of assets and figuring out what works the best for them.”
Richardson adds, “I ask them what they would like done with their property because a lot of times, if this is a collection, people don’t necessarily want it sold, so that’s an important question to ask.”
Some gifts of tangible personal property are sold, and some are not. The property itself can be a valuable asset for UW. Tangible personal property that has been donated to UW includes artwork, books, collectibles, motor vehicles, and equipment.
A retired wildlife field researcher donated a fully equipped camp trailer to the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources to be used for fieldwork. Researchers have used the trailer for weed assessments, monitoring, and research.
A collection of valuable Western-themed paintings was donated by a family to the University of Wyoming over a number of years. The family also established an endowment to support the long-term preservation of the collection.
These are examples of gifts that themselves benefit UW and its students. However, if the property is sold, the proceeds can be used to create an endowment or scholarship that will have an impact on students.
The next important step in the process is deciding if the donor wants a charitable income tax deduction. If they do, depending on the amount of the gift, several steps have to be taken.
“They have to get some sort of valuation done for tax purposes, and there are rules when you get above certain amounts,” says Richardson. “If it’s more than $5,000, then you have to have an appraisal on hand that substantiates the value of your charitable deduction. The charity also has to sign a form acknowledging receipt of the gift and the value of it that the donor files with his or her tax return.”
Tangible personal property donations can benefit UW, and we are more than happy to receive them and help donors through the donation process. If you are interested in making a donation—in any form—please contact Tracy Richardson, Senior Associate Vice President for Gift Planning, at (307) 766-3934 or trichar6@uwyo
Ken Witzeling, Pharmacist and College of Pharmacy Donor