Donor Story

UNM People Changing Worlds: Partnership for a Bright Future

Sonnet and Ian McKinnon Give $7.5 Million to Three University Programs

By Michelle G. McRuiz

mckinnonsCan a single monetary gift change the world? Yes—but it also takes more than money.

Sonnet and Ian McKinnon have committed $7.5 million to UNM. Along with this extremely generous financial support, they have given their vision, passion, confidence and pride.

The McKinnons’ gift will fund projects at the Anderson School of Management, University Arena (“The Pit”), and the UNM Tennis Complex. It will also establish an endowment honoring a former tennis coach and a current coach.

“I couldn’t be happier for the Anderson School of Management and the Department of Athletics for securing such an impactful commitment,” said UNM President David J. Schmidly. “Sonnet and Ian included both academics and athletics in their gift as they realize that both, working together, make for a stronger institution. They are truly changing worlds.”

Academics and Athletics

The Anderson School will receive the bulk of the gift: $5 million for improvements to the facility. “Sonnet and Ian’s gift will enable Anderson to provide New Mexico’s students with the resources, technology and facilities they will need to succeed in the future,” said Anderson School of Management Dean Douglas Brown. “Their shining example will serve as a beacon to attract support for all facets of the University.”

The Pit, which has been home to Lobos basketball for 46 years, recently completed a $60 million renovation. The McKinnons’ gift provides $1 million to support that massive expansion. In addition, the UNM Tennis Facility will receive $1.2 million from the McKinnons. Finally, $300,000 will establish an endowment for tennis scholarships or internships. The endowment honors brothers Loren Dils—a former assistant men’s tennis coach and current director of the Lobo Tennis Club—and Alan Dils, the current head coach for men’s tennis. The McKinnons love tennis and have a long-standing friendship with the Dils brothers.

“This [gift] symbolizes the important partnership at UNM between academics and athletics,” said Vice President for Athletics Paul Krebs. “It will make a significant difference in the lives and experiences of our student-athletes for generations.”

A History of Generosity

Several UNM programs and departments have received financial support from Sonnet and Ian in the past. They have made generous contributions to the Presidential Scholarship Program, the Honor Students Travel Fund, the New Mexico Dental Hygiene Education Fund, Lobo Athletics and the McKinnon Fund for Men’s Tennis. Last year they endowed the Sonnet and Ian McKinnon Distinguished CEO Lecture Series at the Anderson School.

Speaking of their love for New Mexico, the McKinnons said, “Its natural beauty, food, culture—and most importantly, its wonderful people—are forever part of us.”

Clearly, the couple counts many UNM faculty, staff and students among those “wonderful people.” Sonnet recalls a lecture that Douglas Brown gave while she was a student at Anderson before he was its dean. At that time, she said, he was “a fantastic local businessman and leader,” and his lecture changed her entire business perspective. Now he is the School’s dean, and in a superlative example of bringing positive change to others’ worlds, the McKinnons are two of its most important donors.

Longtime UNM Fans

Sonnet and Ian are both Albuquerque natives. After Sonnet graduated with a BBA from the Anderson School of Management in 1993, she and her father, Don Goodenough, started a company that manufactured wine and beer tanks and brewing systems for commercial beer producers. Sonnet became a stay-at-home mother after she and Ian had their first child in 2000. She has mentored children who need support to be the first in their families to attend college, and served on the UNM Foundation Board of Trustees from 2006 through the completion of her term in 2010.

Ian, an alumnus and current trustee of Albuquerque Academy, was also a trustee of Occidental College. He holds a BA from Occidental College and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He is a managing partner of Ziff Brothers Investments.

Next Phase of Excellence

Sonnet and Ian believe their funds are in good hands at UNM. “As native New Mexicans, we feel thrilled to partner with UNM, an institution for which we have profound respect and admiration,” said the McKinnons. “We have immense confidence in President David Schmidly, Dean Douglas Brown, Vice President for Athletes Paul Krebs, Senior Associate Athletic Director Tim Cass, as well as the many other outstanding members of the UNM administration, to lead UNM to its next phase of excellence.”

The McKinnons look forward to witnessing an increasing number of academic and athletic achievements at UNM for many years to come. “We are inspired by UNM’s outstanding students and innovative educators,” they said, “and we hope we’re able to play a role in advancing UNM’s critical mission to provide outstanding educational opportunities for all New Mexicans, as well as for students from all over the world.”

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