Paul Lawrence (’64 MS, ’67 PhD CALS) and Marian Buccafurni appreciate the entrepreneurial spirit fostered within University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty.
Lawrence, who earned his postgraduate biochemistry degrees in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, said he was surprised after leaving the UW-Madison to find that other institutions were not as savvy when it came to putting their research to work.
“I had the chance to go to any one of 12 universities to get a job,” he said. “When I started talking about it I realized Wisconsin had a lot of patents, and those patents were very remunerative for the University. When I would go to these very good schools, the top schools anywhere, as soon as you said something about patents, they would say, ‘What’s a patent?’ These guys at the UW really knew a lot about it.”
That’s one reason Lawrence and Buccafurni, who split time between homes in the Florida Keys and Monterey, California, consulted with the UW Foundation in establishing one of the charitable remainder trusts that are part of their estate plan. Eventually, that charitable remainder trust will fund scholarships at the UW-Madison. “Our desire is to find the best of the best science people and have scholarships to help them,” Buccafurni said.
” We were so pleased with the structure of the charitable trust—how it operates, how
tax-advantaged it can be— that when it came time to do our estate planning, we decided to set up additional charitable remainder trusts.”
The two were working for pharmaceutical firm SmithKline when they met; scientist Lawrence was in California, and lawyer Buccafurni was in the legal department in Philadelphia. “We eventually got together and got married,” she said.
They left SmithKline to start their own biotech company, Litmus Concepts Inc., as a private concern in Silicon Valley and operated it for about 15 years. “We sold it to a public company. At the time, the sale was done as a stock swap: our private stock for the company’s public stock,” she said.
“We were talking to different financial advisers at the time,” Buccafurni said. “One of them suggested a charitable remainder trust.” They established one and were happy with the result. “We were so pleased with the structure of the charitable trust—how it operates, how tax-advantaged it can be—that when it came time to do our estate planning, we decided to set up additional charitable remainder trusts,” she said. “We like the way they operate. We like the idea of being able to provide for our heirs and provide for different institutions.”
One of those institutions they will support is the UW-Madison, where Lawrence studied after earning his undergraduate degree at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. A professor at King’s College knew Henry Lardy, a legendary UW-Madison faculty researcher, and encouraged Lawrence to visit campus. “I drove up to Wisconsin, was impressed and said, ‘Let’s start!’ ”
Lawrence received National Science Foundation funding that took him through his years at the UW-Madison, doing “lots of work with sulfur and other things,” he said. “In Wisconsin I was also investigating penicillin—Why does penicillin work and how does it work?—with Professor Jack Strominger, who left at the same time I did and went to Harvard (University).”
Upon leaving Wisconsin, Lawrence set out for Utah, where he worked in the medical field, taught and did “all kinds of microbial studies.” He moved to California to pursue commercial endeavors and eventually began his SmithKline tenure.
“Paul had such a good experience with the University of Wisconsin, liked the education he got there and the people who were there—some of whom are still there—that we decided to name the UW Foundation as one of the beneficiaries of the charitable remainder trust,” Buccafurni said.
“When Paul had suggested we name the UW Foundation as part of our estate plan, I started looking into it, reading the Foundation’s Dividends newsletters and other materials,” she said. They talked with UW Foundation staff and liked the campus climate, especially the potential for innovations to make their way to market through the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and new initiatives such as the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.
“We could tell they used their money wisely; they invested it wisely. The University seemed to be almost operating like a think tank in fostering their personnel, their scientists, to think outside the box, to do research,” she said. “The good thing is the scientists get some benefits and the University gets some benefits from the new developments that arise.
“We think more universities should operate that way,” she said. “I think it attracts not just good scientists, but scientists with an entrepreneurial bent, which is good.”