By Mary Cochrane
University at Buffalo professors Diane Christian and Bruce Jackson are a highly-accomplished pair.
Diane, a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor, is a poet and author who has written extensively about issues of violence. She is also a religious literature scholar known for her courses on the Bible, heaven, hell and judgment and mythology.
Bruce is a SUNY Distinguished Professor and James Agee Professor of American Culture in UB's English department. He's also an acclaimed folklorist, ethnographer, documentary photographer, filmmaker and author or editor of more than 30 books on the subjects of folklore, sociology and photography. Bruce received a Grammy nomination for "Wake Up Dead Man," a CD of black convicts' work songs, which accompanied his book by the same name. He was named chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters and in the National Order of Merit by the French government, has served as president of the American Folklore Society, been editor of the Journal of American Folklore and chairman of the board of trustees of the American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress.
Diane and Bruce met as professors at the University at Buffalo in 1970 and were married soon after. But In Western New York, they're perhaps best known as the creators and longtime hosts of the Buffalo Film Seminars, a film screening and discussion series held every semester for the past 16 years. The couple have also written several books together and co-produced and directed the documentary, "Death Row," which the late French president, Francois Mitterand, used during his 1980s campaign to end the death penalty in France.
Recently, the pair added another role to their lengthy résumés-philanthropists to the University at Buffalo. The couple pledged $1 million to support a scholarship and a fellowship fund for students in the creative arts. The bequest was partly inspired by the Creative Arts Initiative (CAI), a UB program that brings world-class artists to campus. Bruce co-directs CAI with SUNY Distinguished Professor and Birge-Cary Professor of Music, David Felder.
The two awards will be named for Bruce and Diane's mothers-the Julia Jackson Scholarship in the Creative and Performing Arts, and the Ruth Christian Graduate Fellowship in the Arts. Bruce's mother, Julia, was the daughter of immigrants from Belarus and one of 13 children. She couldn't afford to attend college, but made sure her own children knew the importance of reading, writing and music.
"She wrote poetry and adored literature and music," Bruce says. "When I was young, she took me to the library every Saturday and there were piano and music lessons the family could ill-afford, but we had because she thought music was necessary. She delighted in every one of my books. I doubt my career would have taken the trajectory it did had it not been for her encouragement and support starting in my early childhood."
Diane said her mother, Ruth, taught middle school before raising four children and then returned to teaching once they were grown.
"She loved learning and the arts and young people. She disciplined by liveliness and humor," she says. "She was a super teacher and person."
The couple said they made their pledge to help meet the need for support for UB students in the creative and performing arts. They agreed to publicize their commitment in order to spur others' generosity.
"We want very much to stoke the artistic climate at UB," Diane says.
"It is our hope that our gift will encourage other people to make similar gifts to the university," Bruce added.
The information on this website is not intended as legal or tax advice. For such advice, please consult an attorney or tax advisor. Figures cited in examples are for illustrative purposes only. References to tax rates include federal taxes only and are subject to change. State law may further impact your individual results. Annuities are subject to regulation by the State of California. Payments under such agreements, however, are not protected or otherwise guaranteed by any government agency or the California Life and Health Insurance Guarantee Association. A charitable gift annuity is not regulated by the Oklahoma Insurance Department and is not protected by a guaranty association affiliated with the Oklahoma Insurance Department. Charitable gift annuities are not regulated by and are not under the jurisdiction of the South Dakota Division of Insurance.
A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to the University at Buffalo 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, devise, and bequeath to the University at Buffalo Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit education corporation, headquartered in Buffalo, New York, the (sum of $_____) or (_____% of my estate) or (the property described herein) or (the remainder of my estate) to benefit the University at Buffalo."
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 the University at Buffalo 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 the University at Buffalo 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 the University at Buffalo 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 the University at Buffalo where you agree to make a gift to the University at Buffalo 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.