Donor Story

Sustaining Student-Athlete Success

Planned Gift to UNM Athletics to Benefit Lobos for Years to Come

By Hilary Mayall Jetty

Posted April 15, 2015


Left to right: Chief Operating Officer for Athletics Tim Cass, Jerry Geist, Men’s Basketball Coach Craig Neal, Sharon Geist, (former) Associate Athletics Director for Development Lee De León. Photo: Courtesy UNM Athletics

What is Lobo Spirit? According to Jerry Geist, “It transcends the game, transcends athletics and makes us all, at the University and in our community, part of a team.”

With teamwork as a guiding principle, Sharon and Jerry Geist have planned a major philanthropic commitment to UNM Athletics—a $1.7 million dollar estate gift to support student-athlete success.

“Sharon and Jerry have decided to demonstrate their generosity in an incredible way,” said UNM Vice President for Athletics Paul Krebs, “and I hope this leadership gift encourages others in the community.”

The Geists have been sweethearts since their Las Vegas, N.M. middle school days. Jerry is a former president and CEO of PNM and current chairman of Santa Fe Center Enterprises. Sharon inspired countless students as a devoted public school music teacher and president of the Santa Fe Opera Guild.

Neither of them took a class at UNM, and none of their three sons are athletes, yet Lobo Spirit runs deep. Jerry, the second president of the UNM Foundation (1984-88), also served as chair of the UNM Hospital board in the early days of the Health Sciences Center’s growth. Mindful of the value of participating in sports, he watched with great interest as the Lobo Center for Student-Athlete Success developed. The center provides study halls, computer labs, specialized instruction and advisement assistance.

“Having been born and raised in New Mexico, both Sharon and I have a tremendous amount of passion for the state,” noted Jerry. “We decided, as a family, to make this gift to help young men and women come to UNM, receive a wonderful education, and go on to do great things athletically and academically.”

These dedicated fans have held football and basketball season tickets since UNM President Robert G. Frank was a student here back in the 1970s. “We are grateful to the Geists for their long history of community leadership and their generosity to the University,” said President Frank. “This gift is a lasting legacy that will impact future Lobos for years to come.”

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