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Couple's Support Strengthens University in Many Ways

Nan and Mark Hillis

Nan and Mark Hillis' generosity to Florida State has not been limited to their financial commitment.

Mark and Nancy C. Hillis have long recognized their motivations for philanthropically supporting Florida State University.

"The most important motivation is the relationships we have built over the years with fellow alumni, University leaders and administrators, faculty and students. As graduates of Florida State, we recognize the value of our education and want to do everything we can to provide opportunities for students to obtain an outstanding education and advance our alma mater," says Mark.

Mark, who earned a bachelor's degree in finance, and Nan, who earned a bachelor's degree in finance and marketing, have both made the most of their education from their beloved alma mater.

Mark retired from SunTrust in 2002 as a first vice president of real estate finance in Atlanta, and he retired from the Marine Corps at the rank of major after 20 years of active and reserve duty.

For more than 36 years, Nan worked for several financial institutions and retired last year as BB&T's regional president for Central Florida.

The couple's generosity to Florida State has not been limited to their financial commitment. For more than 25 years, Mark and Nan have greatly given of their time as well. Mark served on the FSU Foundation board for 14 years and on the Alumni Association board for nine years. He currently serves on the University's Board of Trustees and chairs its Finance, Business and Audit Committee. Nan served as co-chair of the FSU Connect Capital Campaign and served on the Alumni Association board for six years. She currently chairs the College of Business board, the same board Mark had chaired and served on for nearly 24 years.

The couple established their first bequest to Florida State in 1988, but have amended it several times. As they have become even more engaged with Florida State, they are in the process of amending it again to make a transformational impact across many areas of campus.

"We have chosen to support several areas of the University, including the College of Business, Undergraduate Studies and Honors programs, Graduate School and Fellows programs, a Presidential Scholarship Fund, the Student Veterans Center Fund, the FSU Alumni Association Fund and athletic endowments supporting all men's and women's programs," Mark says.

By naming Florida State in their will through a bequest, Mark and Nan will create a legacy that will surely strengthen the University in many facets.

When asked why they chose to use a bequest as a tool to help make a difference at Florida State, Mark says, "Our bequest gives us the opportunity to make our most significant monetary contribution to our alma mater, and at the same time gives us the flexibility to adjust for the unknown as it relates to financial needs during our lifetime."

For others who are considering a bequest or other deferred gift to Florida State, Mark says, "Our advice to donors is to learn as much as you can from FSU Foundation and Seminole Booster development officers and University leaders and administrators about FSU's needs so you can make an informed decision in the best interest of our students and Florida State University."

For more information on how to support FSU, click here.


A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Florida State University a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to Florida State University, a nonprofit corporation currently located at Tallahassee, Florida, or its successor thereto, ______________* [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to the FSU Foundation or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to the FSU Foundation as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to the FSU Foundation as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and the FSU Foundation where you agree to make a gift to the FSU Foundation and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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