Santa Fe's Institute of American Indian Arts Announces the Renaming of Science and Technology Building Recognizing Largest Private Donation in Institution’s History

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The Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) announced today that it has received its largest private donation ever and will be renaming their Science and Technology Building to honor Robert and Barbara Ells, a Santa Fe couple that has previously given to the Institute.

The Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) announces today that it is renaming its existing Science and Technology Building the Barbara and Robert Ells Science and Technology Building to recognize the couple’s legacy gift to the institution. A ceremony and reception to honor the Ells for their support and officially recognize the renaming of the building will take place Thursday, May 15, 2014 at 4 pm on the front steps of the building on the IAIA campus at 83 Avan Nu Po Road.

Donors Barbara and Robert Ells have a long history with IAIA; Mrs. Ells is an IAIA Trustee and the couple has supported IAIA generously for the past several years. Recently, the couple established a charitable remainder unitrust that will benefit IAIA. At the end of the trust term, IAIA will receive half of the trust’s assets. This is the largest single private donation in IAIA’s history and will transform IAIA’s capacity to support its students and academic programs.

Other support from the Ells has been instrumental in helping to build new, state-of-the-art facilities for IAIA’s museum collection, and IAIA’s Digital Dome, a space that merges art and technology to create unique learning opportunities. Both of these facilities are housed in the building being renamed in honor of the couple. Last year, the couple provided the lead gift for the recently completed capital campaign to build the Lloyd Kiva New Welcome Center, to renovate the Academic Building, and to establish an on-campus student health clinic.

The Ells will be recognized in a ceremony led by Loren Kieve (Cherokee) and Dr. Robert Martin (Cherokee), Chairman of the Board of Trustees and President of IAIA, respectively. IAIA’s Incoming Associated Student Government President, Jamelyn Ebelacker, will host the event; IAIA Student Ambassador Glennabah Buffington will introduce student Edsel Brown for a ceremonial prayer.

Barbara, an early childhood educator, and Robert, a pharmaceutical executive, have been married 51 years and have four children. The family lived in several areas of the U.S., as well as in Germany, and have been active in political, women’s, and educational issues. It was the family’s move to Boulder, CO, that initiated their interest in the beauty of the Southwest U.S. and Native American arts and crafts. Numerous travels allowed them to meet various American Indian artists, including Amado Pena and R.C. Gorman, and to understand, appreciate and collect many art objects from the Southwest.

For media inquiries, please contact:
Jennifer Hobson-Hinsley
505 603 8643


About IAIA: For more than 50 years, the Institute of American Indian Arts has played a leading role in the direction and shape of Native expression. As it has grown and evolved into an internationally acclaimed college, museum and community and tribal support resource through the Center for Lifelong Education, IAIA's dedication to the study and advancement of Native arts and cultures is matched only by its commitment to student achievement and the preservation and progress of the communities they represent. Learn more about our achievements and mission at

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