This is the story of the Zuckerman Family Foundation, and it is our honor to tell it. The College would not be here today without the vision and generosity of the Zuckerman family. Mel and Enid Zuckerman gave a transformative contribution, a gift that launched the College of Public Health at the University of Arizona, a gift that has touched the lives of millions of Arizonans, and improved the health and wellness of so many communities in Southern Arizona and beyond.
The story of the Zuckerman Family Foundation begins with the story of one man, Mel Zuckerman. Mel discovered the benefits of health and wellness in his own life, and in that discovery he and his wife Enid found a passion to share what they had learned with the world.
As an accountant in New Jersey during the 1950s, Mel Zuckerman had dreams of moving West. He convinced his wife Enid, and together they moved to Tucson where Mel learned the building trade and became a home developer. Success soon followed, and by the 1970s, Mel had become president of the Southern Arizona Home Builder Association.
Jay, Mel, Enid and Amy Zuckerman, circa 1960s.
However, the stress of running the business took a toll on Mel’s health. After his father’s death, he embarked on a quest to reduce stress, lose weight, and find a path to wellness. With his unique focus and determination, Mel not only adopted a healthy lifestyle, he also learned all about health and wellness, and about the many benefits of healthy living – nutrition, exercise, mindfulness. It was a revelation. Inspired by what they had learned, Mel and Enid felt called to help others benefit from their insights into healthy living. In 1979, their vision came to life with the opening of Canyon Ranch, a resort dedicated to natural practices for health, fitness, and wellness.
From the start, the Zuckermans were committed to sharing their health and wellness knowledge with the community. They wanted everyone to benefit, not just the guests at Canyon Ranch.
To reach the wider Tucson community, Mel and Enid supported the University of Arizona’s physiology and nutritional sciences departments, and they collaborated with the Arizona Health Sciences Center (AHSC). In 1997, the Zuckermans’ enthusiasm for promoting healthy lifestyles led to the creation of a major endowment at the university. At the time, the Zuckerman donation was the largest gift in University of Arizona history. The gift ultimately enabled the launch of the College of Public Health in the year 2000. A few years later, the College was named in honor of Mel and Enid Zuckerman. Since then, the family has committed more than $20 million to the UA Foundation, primarily for the benefit of the College of Public Health.
In 2004, the Zuckermans created the Canyon Ranch Center for Prevention and Health Promotion to support community wellness efforts aimed at improving health and reducing disease risk, in concert with research on lifestyle-based disease prevention. These programs engage underserved and minority communities in Southern Arizona with the goal of building widespread health equity in the region.