When former advertisement executive and UNH alumna Judith “Jude” Blake was growing up, it was common for her father to say it was her duty to give back to her community if she were to become successful. With her father’s influence in mind, Blake recently pledged an $8 million donation to UNH, with a majority of those funds going directly towards programs benefiting students in the Peter T. Paul School of Business and Economics.

Blake’s father, Dr. Jules Blake, made it known that he wanted  more for his daughters than what he had. In Jude’s case, he not only encouraged her to go to university, but to go even further: into the business world. Jude mentioned that when she was a young woman, it wasn’t overly popular for women to head into business professions.

Blake took her father’s advice. After graduating with a master’s degree in business from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Blake went on to become a marketing executive at companies such as General Mills and PepsiCo.

For many years Blake hadn’t thought much of UNH, outside of sending donation checks once a year. That changed in the fall of 1999 when she received a visit from Young Dawkins, who, at that time, was the head fundraising chief at the UNH Foundation.

“He asked me why I hadn’t given more. I told him that I gave money to the Wharton School. He said that Wharton has hundreds of people like you, but UNH doesn’t,” Jude said.

Though she’s been active on the UNH campus since 2000, Blake’s presence has increased  notably since her retirement, including positions on the following boards: the UNH Foundation Board of Directors, the University Systems of New Hampshire Board of Trustees, the UNH Alumni Association Board of Directors and the Paul College advisory board. She also started a fellowship program in 2007 and a scholarship fund in 2008, and mentors business students.

“It goes back to core values. I was taught by my father about the importance of higher education and giving back. That’s something that I keep with me,” Blake said. “I try my best to live that out.”

Blake’s pledge is part of the university’s Celebrate 150 Campaign, a fundraising initiative started in 2011 that just started its public phase this past fall. The goal for the campaign is $275 million, and, as of right now, $256 million has been raised. Since July 2016, UNH had raised $56 million and looks to finish the public phase by 2018. As is the case with Blake’s pledge, the majority of funds raised will go toward student support.

Debbie Dutton, president of the UNH Foundation and the vice president of advancement for the university, said that some of the goals of the campaign are to bring more people like Blake on board. According to Dutton, in the past most of the larger donations came from individuals like Peter Paul, Marcy Carsey or Dana Hamel, otherwise known as the usual suspects. The goal for Dutton and the foundation is to broaden the scope of those who donate.

“The long-term goal for UNH is get more people involved. This campaign is a turning point for UNH,” Dutton said. “People feel very confident.”

Executive Editor