Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Attention to ‘learning differences’ at DU inspires record gift from Galena Foundation

The $35 million campaign for the Morgridge College of Education, and particularly for its new home, Ruffatto Hall, was nearing completion. Just over $1 million of the fundraising goal remained.

Ginger Maloney, dean of the college at that time, remembers sitting down with Maureen Silva, associate vice chancellor and campaign director for University Advancement, and Gayle Mooney, a campaign committee member and donor.

“We were talking about the campaign, saying that we were getting close,” Maloney recalls. “We just needed another $1.2 million, so we could see light at end of tunnel.”

The next day, Silva got a call from Mooney that she’ll never forget.

“Gayle said, ‘You have $1.2 million left to raise, right? We’ll do that,’” Silva remembers. “That’s probably the best phone call I’ve ever received. The Mooneys are so generous and unassuming. Throughout the campaign, they showed us all the kindness and support in the world. Their gift was about helping the project get to completion.”

Steve Mooney, Gayle’s husband, says the gift was made through their personal foundation, the Galena Foundation.

The Mooneys were particularly interested in the project because of its potential impact on students with learning differences. Their daughter, Amanda, has dyslexia and attended DU for one year, during which she benefited from the Learning Effectiveness Program.

“In the campaign plans, we saw some really strong and effective programs to be put in place that would have an impact on a lot of people,” Steve Mooney says.

“When the campaign came up, what impressed me so was that they were going to teach teachers to recognize early a child with a learning difference,” Gayle adds. “We thought there was such a need for this in the public school system. Teachers need to learn to recognize those problems early on.”

Maloney, who is now director of DU’s Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy, says that the Mooneys’ previous gifts to DU were between $25,000 and $100,000 for scholarships and programs. The “leap” to $1.3 million was thrilling for all involved.

“That was an amazing way to conclude the campaign,” she says.

Steve Mooney says that this was the largest gift ever made by the Galena Foundation.

“Instead of giving to big national campaigns where the money disappears into a fog, we try to work with programs where we can assess the impact of what we’ve done,” he says. “It is exciting to be able to do things that you think are going to be helpful to people.”

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