Building a Legacy at UB: Trustee Mark A. Fries ’73 Promotes Planned Giving

After making a generous bequest in his will, trustee Mark A. Fries '73 wants others to know how valuable estate planning can be as a tool for philanthropy at UB.

Mark A. Fries '73


Seventeen words. That’s all it took for Mark A. Fries ’73 to name the University of Bridgeport in his will, creating a lasting legacy for the Purple Knights.

After making his generous $50,000 bequest, Fries wants others to know how valuable estate planning can be as a tool for philanthropy at UB. Bequests, he said, send a powerful message about the University.

“It speaks volumes about the impact an institution has had on someone personally and professionally if they’re willing to make that commitment to show their thanks and gratitude to the school,” he said.

Fries knows something about philanthropy: While pursuing his degree in physical education at UB, Fries worked part-time in the alumni relations office. Following his graduation in 1973, Fries went to work for UB full-time, eventually taking on corporate fundraising for the university.

Fries said the job planted a seed early on: He saw people making major donations to UB and hoped that he could do so one day as well. Forty years later, Fries is using the bequest as a powerful vehicle for achieving just that.

As he points out, bequests and other forms of planned giving “allow you to be a little more generous than maybe your current financial condition would allow.”

Deferred or planned giving encompasses a wide variety of methods for leveraging one’s estate or long-term financial plan to benefit an institution. Bequests rank among the simplest forms of planned giving, as they typically require the addition of just one or two sentences to one’s will. Other vehicles, such as charitable remainder trusts, are more complex legally, though they can come with significant tax benefits.

Fries said he feels connected with UB given his own positive experiences as a student and given the value the University provides to the greater Bridgeport community.

“I never lost sight of the fact that the University was a tremendous asset to the city.”

This belief stayed with him even after he left his job at UB in 1983 to work for local insurance firm Beardsley, Brown & Bassett. In his new role in the insurance industry, Fries became increasingly involved in local community organizations such as the United Way and the Cardinal Shehan Center.

Fries drew upon his extensive community contacts to strengthen local support for the University and, in 2001, he joined the UB Board of Trustees, on which he still serves.

Beyond his recent contribution, Fries wants to encourage others to consider making planned gifts to UB. For those interested in remembering UB in their wills, Fries has a request: Let the world know about it, because it will inspire others to give.

“If you’re proud of what you’re doing, why not allow that to be used for leverage or at least provide knowledge to others that they could do the same?” he asked.

UB accepts many kinds of planned gifts, both anonymous and named. To learn more about planned giving at UB, please contact Marie Muhvic, vice president for advancement at (203) 576-4896 or at mmuhvic@bridgeport.edu.