The University of North Texas announced today that it will receive the largest monetary gift in its history from the estate of Paul R. Voertman, the former owner of Denton’s iconic Voertman’s Bookstore.
According to a news release, Voertman died June 21 at the age of 88. Voertman and Richard Ardoin, his partner of 48 years, were extremely generous to UNT during their lifetimes. Ardoin, who died in 2002, made a significant estate gift to UNT that includes a charitable trust. With Voertman’s gift, the couple’s combined contribution to UNT totals more than $15 million, making them UNT’s top donors.
“We will forever be grateful to Paul and Richard for the generosity they have shown UNT and their foresight in making their legacy a commitment to furthering education, scholarship and the arts at UNT,” UNT President Neal Smatresk said in the release.
Voertman was considered a local patron of the arts and music. His gift, projected to be at least $10 million, is designated to the colleges of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Music and Visual Arts and Design.
The funds will primarily support scholarships and fellowships, as well as research and creative activities such as the Opera Production Fund.
More than 40 percent of the endowment will be eligible to receive matching funds from the Texas Research Incentive Program (TRIP), potentially leveraging an additional $4 million to benefit research initiatives, including graduate student support.
“This gift will have a tremendous impact on UNT, our students and their opportunities for research and creative exploration today and for future generations to come,” Smatresk said in the release. “Denton was Paul’s home, and he was a community-minded business owner who gave back to UNT and this community in so many meaningful ways.”
A celebration of Voertman’s life and a concert to honor both him and Ardoin will begin at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 19, at UNT’s Murchison Performing Arts Center. The public is invited to attend.