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Les And Pam Muma Talk About Their $15M Gift To USF

WUSF Public Media
WUSF's Mark Schreiner (right) interviews Pam and Les Muma about their latest $15 million donation to USF in their Belleair home on Nov. 8.

One of the major headlines coming from the University of South Florida's gala celebration of its Unstoppable Campaign reaching its billion dollar goal was the announcement of another $15 million gift from philanthropists Les and Pam Muma.

WUSF's University Beat was the only broadcast media invited to speak to the couple at their Belleair home ahead of the announcement. 

As we had reported earlier, the couple already was USF's largest donors, having donated over $41 million to Les' alma mater, including $25 million to the business college that now bears their name. 

"The campaign ends next June and we want to make a statement that this university is going to continue to grow, it's going to continue to need funding, but it needs public money to continue to be 'unstoppable,'" said Les Muma.

The Muma's latest gift includes $8 million to USF Athletics - $5 million to the new football center, and $1 million each to both the men's and women's basketball teams, as well as the men's golf program. 

The Muma College of Business will receive $5 million. 

"The reason for that is the phenomenal progress that's been made in that school," said Les Muma. "Dean Moez Limayem has done a phenomenal job with his team on taking that business school farther than we thought it would be in five years." 

And USF Health will get $2 million for the Pamela Muma Women’s Health Center at USF Health at Tampa General Hospital.

"(It's) primarily for women to come in and have an annual physical where they can have all their diagnostic testing done in one area - they don't have to leave the building," said Pam Muma. "If they need to go for further specialists, we will have nurse navigators there to make appointments for them. It will be a one-stop comprehensive healthcare center for women."

The center is expected to open in September 2018. 

The couple credits USF with their getting together - while they had met when they were younger, they only started dating once Les was attending USF.

"I think when we were walking those sidewalks and treeless lanes (of USF) fifty years ago...what we were hoping for then was to get married, raise a family and be comfortable, never thinking that we would be able in this position to give back to the community and the university that really brought us together," said Pam.

Les Muma started his career in data processing while still at USF, majoring in theoretical mathematics. He took internships with Southern Bell and International Mineral and Chemical. After graduating in 1966, he took a job in the information technology department at IMC.

Eventually, he co-founded Fiserv Inc., which grew from a small company with one location and a handful of employees to a Fortune 500 company with around 21,000 employees who provide technology products and services to more than 17,000 financial institution clients around the world.

"We think that anybody that has amassed any amount of wealth has a moral obligation to give it back," said Les Muma. "You don't make the money that we made in a vacuum - you make it because of the people around you and because where you grew up.

"We grew up in a great country and a great state, and it's our moral obligation to give back, and we enjoy every minute of it," he added. "We get more positive feelings out of giving the gifts that we give then the receivers get from receiving the money - I am convinced of that and that's the way it should be."

Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.
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