News and analysis
March 21, 2016

Gifts Roundup: $10 Million From Ex-Kohl’s Chief to Gulfshore Playhouse

Pedro Zepeda

Ben Jacoby and Andrea Lynn perform in "'The Glass Menagerie" at the Gulfshore Playhouse, which received a $10 million pledge for a new theater that will open in 2019.

A roundup of notable gifts compiled by The Chronicle:

Gulfshore Playhouse

Jay Baker, the former president of retail company Kohl’s, and his wife, Patty, pledged $10 million to help pay for a new theater complex in Naples, Fla. The Bakers stipulated that Gulfshore officials must raise an additional $10 million from other donors to receive the entire pledged amount.

The new theater is scheduled to open in 2019.

The couple have backed Broadway musicals such as the Tony-winning "Memphis" and are long-time arts donors.

University of California at Berkeley

Bita Daryabari, a former software engineer, gave $5 million to establish the Bita Daryabari Presidential Chair in Iranian Studies. The money will support teaching and research by a faculty member in the Department of Near Eastern Studies whose work is focused on ancient Iran.

This is the latest in a long line of donations Ms. Daryabari has given toward Iranian studies programs and efforts to help the Iranian diaspora.

The philanthropist came to the United States from Iran as a teenager and went on to work at Silicon Valley startups. She has since founded two nonprofits: the Pars Equality Center, which promotes the social, cultural, and economic integration of Iranians and Persian-speakers in the United States; and the Unique Zan Foundation, which provides health and literacy programs to women in the Middle East.

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Tobee Kaplan donated $5 million to endow health and wellness programs and name the new Leonard J. Kaplan Center for Wellness.

Ms. Kaplan is the widow of Leonard Kaplan, who led the Kay Chemical Company, a supplier of cleaning products. He died last April at 86.

Old Globe

Andrew Viterbi, a co-founder of Qualcomm, donated $5 million to create the Erna Finci Viterbi Artistic Director Fund, which will back the San Diego theater’s artistic and arts-engagement programs.

Erna Finci Viterbi, who died last year, was the donor’s wife. Mr. Viterbi has supported the Old Globe for more than two decades.

He is a well-known scholar in technology circles and currently serves as the Presidential Chair Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering.

The school was named for him in 2004 when he gave the university a $52-million gift.

University of Missouri

Barry and Marge Slayton pledged more than $2.6 million to support research into beef genomics and nutrition at the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

The money will back research aimed at improving the nutritional health of cattle and beef farms’ reproduction practices.

While Mr. Slayton is a retired banker and Ms. Slatyon retired from the insurance business last year, the couple have raised cattle for more than 40 years.

Both are University of Missouri graduates. He earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science and she earned a bachelor’s degree in home economics as well as a master’s degree in education.

To learn about other big donations, see our database of gifts of $1 million or more, which is updated throughout the week.

Send an email to Maria Di Mento.