David '83, Maddie '17, Bernadine and Nicholas '14


Your Support Will Be Matched, Dollar For Dollar.

Thanks to a generous donation from the Clyde and Helen Wu Family Fund, our community has the power to raise $1 million to support our outstanding faculty. The Clyde and Helen Wu Family Fund Challenge will match every dollar you donate to up to $500,000! Our Faculty of Excellence campaign is the final fundraising effort before the summer 2020 conclusion of the Sure Foundations comprehensive campaign – we urge you to make a difference today with your donation.


Our faculty — both past and present — inspire greatness. Their passion for the art and science of teaching and their drive to vastly exceed expectations are the reasons our students develop a passion for learning and a drive to excel. They are also the reason the Clyde and Helen Wu Family Fund was inspired to champion the conclusion of the Sure Foundations campaign with a $500,000 challenge grant. Clyde and Helen’s oldest son, David ‘83 and his family (Bernadine, Nicholas ‘14, Maddie ‘17) have experienced the impact of our outstanding faculty firsthand.

“Of all the initiatives to support, the Faculty of Excellence phase of the campaign is the one we think will have the greatest impact,” said David. “Ultimately, they are the ones who make the impact. As a ‘lifer’ alumnus of the school, my experience with amazing faculty is the reason my wife and I wanted to send our children there. The individual relationships I formed with teachers not only helped magnify my strengths but also helped me develop a passion for subject areas I’d not been interested in previously.”

Reminiscing about biology teacher Lestina Colby (“She fostered independent thinking…without her guidance and mentorship I may not have pursued medical science.”) and history teacher David Backhurst (“He instilled a love for history in me, and also in my son and daughter.”), David recognizes that the common thread linking his faculty experiences is that they all enabled him to be a greater version of himself.

His children Nicholas and Maddie concur that during their time at University Liggett School, faculty went beyond teaching subjects — they fostered critical thinking, risk-taking, and a global viewpoint.

Nicholas, now a political reporter for USA Today, credits Upper School History teacher Adam Hellebuyck for cultivating his instincts as a journalist. “I have to question what I hear from politicians every day. I credit a lot of that instinct to…Liggett. Mr. Hellebuyck pushed us to look beyond the textbook…or to question the textbook itself. (Once) in my world history class, we came across a passage in the textbook that seemed like a suspiciously simplistic description of how Christianity spread throughout eastern Africa. Mr. Hellebuyck not only allowed us to question the textbook but actively encouraged me to investigate what might have actually happened using other sources. I’m grateful for his guidance and encouragement.”

Maddie, now a student at Princeton, shared how faculty like David Dwaihy — who both taught her in math class and coached her and the rest of the girls’ varsity soccer team to a state championship — and Chinese teacher Yun Bai — with whom Maddie still communicates about her Chinese studies — exemplify continual growth and improvement.“

“My children’s lives, like mine, are forever changed because of the people at University Liggett School,” said David. “It’s why my parents would have wanted to support the campaign with a challenge. If not for the faculty, we would be only fractions of the people we were meant to be.”

Consider how different your life, or the life of your children, would be if not for the impact of a teacher who inspired greatness. As we enter the final phase of our Sure Foundations campaign, it’s the right time to give back to the school and the faculty that have given so much to you, and continue to impart to new generations of Liggett learners.

The Clyde and Helen Wu Family Fund Challenge will match every dollar you donate to up to $500,000. With the campaign closing in Summer 2020, we urge you to make a difference today with your donation. To do so, please contact Director of Development Cressie Boggs at, or visit to donate instantly.