A Legacy Rooted in Well-Being

Mindfulness and compassion are at the heart of everything for Fran Orrok. So, when a colleague introduced her to renowned UW neuroscientist Richard Davidson at the Center for Healthy Minds, Fran was immediately inspired. She began making contributions to support the important work being done at the center.

“Mindfulness is a catch-all word today, but overall it’s looking at the numerous ways we can increase our well-being by simply paying attention to what we think and how we breathe. Observing how we treat ourselves when waiting at a red light can be very revealing,” Fran shared.

“Support what you care deeply about — I want to see a world where well-being is a value for everyone.”

Originally from Chicago, Fran earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and her PhD in psychology from Wayne State University. She enjoyed a full and rewarding career as a psychology professor and psychotherapist. Her husband, Tim, grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, attending local schools, culminating in a PhD in Physics from Harvard. Tim enjoyed a successful scientific career at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey. For a decade in the 1960s, he worked in Washington, DC, solving problems that helped put man safely on the moon.

Investing in a Better World

While Fran and Tim aren’t graduates of the UW, their connection to the university is strong and sparks from a passion for investing in a better world. They became the first donors to leave a bequest for the Center for Healthy Minds.

“Our kindness and compassion affect the people around us. The work that the center is doing is focused on maximizing that. It’s the little things that happen every day that make a difference,” said Fran.

Kindness and compassion are the cornerstones of their relationship. When they were single, Fran and Tim each enjoyed sailing. After an accident on the water, Fran needed a trailer for her damaged sailboat. She rode her bike to Tim’s house to inquire about borrowing his trailer, and Tim happily obliged — and recommended they have dinner as well. They’ve now been together for 43 years.

A Mindful Approach to Philanthropy

The Center for Healthy Minds will celebrate its 10-year anniversary in 2020. The center’s mission is to cultivate well-being and relieve suffering through a scientific understanding of the mind. Its neuroscience-based research comes down to one basic question: What constitutes a healthy mind? The center benefits from cross-disciplinary collaborations. Their core values — making an impact on the world; conducting their work with rigor; and cultivating a prosocial workplace by interacting with respect, kindness, compassion, and gratitude — aligned with the Orroks’ ideals.

“As COVID-19 is showing us, we are all inextricably connected on more levels than we ever imagined. Whether we smile at each other or frown, these are simple ways that we can make a real difference in our own well-being. If we can just remember that and come from a place of caring, everyone benefits,”

“I’m a practitioner, so I can consider that I really am doing mindfulness practice 24 hours a day. I was initially intrigued, and I continue to be intrigued by the work that the [Center for Healthy Minds] is doing,” Fran says. “When it comes to impact, one thing I’m very clear about is just how interconnected everyone’s well-being is, and well-being depends on what we think.”

About 10 years ago, the Orroks relocated to Green Valley, Arizona. While Fran hasn’t been able to visit Madison in the last couple of years, she is hopeful about taking a trip to the center once the timing is right. When considering the legacy they wanted to leave, Fran and Tim had a strong desire for their money to go where it would truly support their values. They chose a charitable gift annuity as the perfect vehicle to protect their income flow and provide a gift that would advance the study of mindfulness and well-being.

“My passion is that people should be able to live together in ways that support each other. As COVID-19 is showing us, we are all inextricably connected on more levels than we ever imagined. Whether we smile at each other or frown, these are simple ways that we can make a real difference in our own well-being. If we can just remember that and come from a place of caring, everyone benefits,” Fran shared.

Planned Gifts Make a Difference

A planned gift can be the most significant legacy a donor can leave, validating a lifetime of values. The Orroks’ choice to make these transformative gift commitments will help advance the center’s mission, expand its research, attract new faculty leaders, and ensure sustainability for the center.

When talking with others about supporting the Center for Healthy Minds, Fran conveyed a desire to listen and share why she supports the center. “It’s all about connecting people with their dreams.”


The Center for Healthy Minds $100,000 Legacy Challenge.

Help support the Center for Health Minds’ work now and in the future. When a donor includes the center as a beneficiary of their will – and lets the center know by December 31, 2020 —the first 20 new legacy donors will unlock an immediate gift of $5,000 from an anonymous donor with their future legacy gift.

For further information, please contact the Center’s Director of Donor Engagement Lorri Houston at LHouston2@wisc.edu or 608-263-3672.

Learn more

Find gift-planning articles and advice.