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Amazing gift will support University of Utah women’s athletic programs

It is one of the largest planned gifts ever received by the university.

The University of Utah Department of Athletics is grateful to acknowledge a generous planned gift from long-time supporters Harriet and Leo Hopf to benefit women’s sports programs. The Hopfs have included a bequest in their estate plans to provide a gift of $6 million to support women’s volleyball and basketball, women’s club sports and the Utes with Wings program.

It is one of the largest planned gifts ever received by the university and represents one of the largest gifts in the nation specifically to support women’s athletics not tied to a capital project.

“Harriet and Leo Hopf are among our most dedicated fans, cheering on our student-athletes at both home and road games,” said President Ruth V. Watkins. “Now they have capped that loyalty with this incredibly generous gift, which will benefit our women’s sports teams, clubs and programs for years to come. I am deeply grateful to the Hopfs for their commitment to women’s athletics. They are making a true difference in the lives of our student-athletes.”

The Hopfs intend to designate 80% of their charitable bequest to Utah Athletics to specifically benefit women’s basketball, women’s volleyball and the Utes with Wings program, which was established in 2018 to create more opportunities, as well as a community of support, for the U’s female student-athletes. Twenty percent of the gift total will be designated to support women’s club sports at the university.

“We are incredibly grateful for the passionate support Harriet and Leo provide to Utah Athletics, and our women’s sports programs in particular,” said Director of Athletics Mark Harlan. “The impact their support has made on our student-athletes is profound. The enormity of their planned gift will ensure future generations of students in our women’s sports programs the most enriching experience possible and continue to elevate Utah Athletics.”

On Saturday, Feb. 1, the Hopfs will be recognized for their long-time support during a halftime tribute at the women’s basketball game vs. Oregon State as part of National Girls and Women in Sports Day. The game tips off at 12 p.m. at the Jon M. Huntsman Center.

“Participating in athletics in college, both as a varsity athlete and on intramural teams, gave me the confidence and discipline to succeed in medical school, in my career, and in life,” said Harriet Hopf. “I met Leo through intramural volleyball. Sports, both as fans and on teams, have remained an important part of our lives. When I was recruited to the University of Utah Department of Anesthesiology 14 years ago, one of the things that attracted us was the integrity and quality of Utah Athletics. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to support athletics programs for women students at the U because I know the value of those experiences in preparing them for their future.”

Harriet and Leo Hopf

Leo Hopf emphasized how large a role cheering for women’s sports has played in their lives.

“The level of play is amazing, the athletes are skilled and committed, and the coaches do a wonderful job of helping their players grow into strong and confident leaders,” Leo Hopf said. “It is time for these athletes and programs to get the funding they deserve. Even small donations to women’s athletics can make an enormous difference, and we hope others will join us in donating at any level to support the teams they love.”

Harriet Hopf is a professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and adjunct professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the U. In this role she practices anesthesiology, teaches medical students and residents in the operating room, and performs research on preventing infections after surgery.

A three-sport varsity athlete in basketball, track and field, and softball at Yale, Harriet Hopf set the university’s indoor and outdoor records in the high jump as a freshman. She lettered four years in basketball, earning Most Improved Player in 1979, and two each in track and softball. After graduation, she attended Dartmouth Medical School. She completed anesthesia residency at the University of California, San Francisco and remained on the faculty there until she joined the U in 2006.

Harriet Hopf served on the University of Utah Athletics Advisory Council from 2011-2016, including two years as chair. She was an inaugural member of the Utes with Wings board in 2017 and has served on the Crimson Club Board of Directors since 2019. In recognition of her efforts to improve the educational and working environment for women at the University of Utah, she received the Linda K. Amos Award for Distinguished Service to Women in 2017. She was recognized by the Women in Anesthesiology national organization with the inaugural Distinguished Service Award in 2019.

Leo Hopf is the co-author of “Rethink, Reinvent, Reposition: 12 Strategies to Renew Your Business and Boost Your Bottom Line,” which was named the book of the month in July 2010 by the Institute for Management Studies. His expertise spans strategy, decision-making, and business renewal. He has led strategy efforts in 15 countries across 40 different industries. Hopf earned a Master of Business Administration degree with highest distinction from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, and has bachelor’s degrees in chemical engineering and in metallurgical engineering from the University of Minnesota. He received the Walter Jacobs Prize for inspiring confidence and enthusiasm amongst his peers while at the Tuck School.

Leo Hopf has led hundreds of strategy sessions with CEOs, leadership teams and boards of directors. He designed the decision-making and strategic planning processes for five of the Fortune 100 largest companies, and has facilitated sessions with dozens of CEOs on behalf of several different industry associations. For the past three years, Leo Hopf and Utah Volleyball Head Coach Beth Launiere have given innovative and highly-regarded joint presentations at the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s annual meeting that combine business strategy with coaching experience to provide valuable insights and tools for both new and experienced coaches.

Harriet and Leo Hopf with the Utah Volleyball team on foreign tour in 2017 at the Vatican

“We are tremendously grateful and in awe of the wonderful generosity of Harriet and Leo Hopf,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Lori McDonald. “This gift will make such a significant impact for our club sport programs and the students who participate. Club sports provide a sense of belonging and well-being for our students, which significantly contribute to student success.”

“The generosity of Harriet and Leo Hopf knows no boundaries,” said head volleyball coach Beth Launiere. “They have immersed themselves in the Utah volleyball program as fans, donors, mentors and friends. This financial contribution is another example of their commitment to fostering equality and opportunity for female student-athletes. The Hopfs truly are champions of women’s sports, and this philanthropic gift will have a tremendous impact on generations to come.”

“Harriet and Leo are incredible ambassadors for Utah Women’s Athletics,” said head women’s basketball coach Lynne Roberts. “They have been faithful and passionate supporters of our program – from cheering loudly on the sidelines, to sending encouraging notes to coaches, to taking professional photographs of the action during games. They epitomize what it means to genuinely and sincerely support. This incredibly generous gift to our women’s athletic programs at the University of Utah just continues to shine a bright light on what amazing people the Hopfs truly are. We are beyond grateful.”