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Mix and Match

Illinois Legacy Challenge increases value of new planned gifts


Paul Garcy worked his way through college, earning three undergraduate degrees and one master’s from the University of Illinois. That sweat and toil caused him to truly value his education and strongly believe in paying it forward.


Paul Garcy


So when he found out that a recently launched endeavor could multiply his donations to the university, that was all the sweeter.

“It’s all about how to best [maximize] your impact,” said Paul ’81 ENG, ’81 LAS, ’81 LAS, MS ’85 ENG, who received undergraduate degrees in general engineering, Spanish, and genetics and development, as well as a master’s degree in general engineering.

Initiated in fall 2021 as part of the With Illinois fundraising campaign, the Illinois Legacy Challenge provides an unusual opportunity. With $1 million in matching funds donated by a generous alumnus, any new planned gift or increased gift (for any Illinois purpose) documented with the University of Illinois Foundation can tap into that pool. That advantage directs 10 percent of the new donation (up to $10,000) to immediately benefit one of five funds, including a UIUC college unrestricted fund of one’s choice. The challenge ends when the $1 million is completely used or June 30, 2022, whichever comes first.

It was an opportunity Paul couldn’t pass up. The software engineer at Accenture has worked all over the world—including Saudi Arabia, France, Indonesia, and the Philippines—but never forgotten his beginnings as a young undergraduate at Illinois.

For Paul, the Map Library (then located in the Natural History Building) and the Main Library served as islands of respite during his busy days on both sides of Green Street (engineering on the north, liberal arts and sciences on the south). Searching for a quiet place to study and park his heavy textbooks, he discovered the Reading Room, then chanced upon a pamphlet advertising the benefits of being a Library Friend—including access to a study carrel in the stacks. “This kept my sanity,” Paul recalled, as he juggled full-time work with the pressures of academics. “This was a gift from heaven.”

The two libraries hold a soft spot in Paul’s heart, whose contributions have supported a negatives restoration project at the Archives as well as the purchase of railroad maps. He urges people interested in giving to contact members of the advancement team, who have been “particularly creative,” he said, in listening to donors’ interests as well as opening eyes to previously unknown avenues.

“I want to be fully supportive,” Paul said of his ongoing enthusiasm for Library projects. When donating to the Library, “if we can connect passion, intent, and need, that’s always the better.”


Note: To learn more about how you can participate in the Illinois Legacy Challenge, contact Assistant Dean for Advancement Kathryn Risor-Heise (217-333-5682 or or UIF Director of Gift Planning Jason James Shuba, JD (312-585-9038 or, or visit