October 05, 2015

Gifts Roundup: $100-Million Gift Goes to Conflict Resolution

Joel Wintermantle

A $100-million gift to the University of Chicago will go in part to establish four named professorships in conflict studies and will create a fellowship program for masters and Ph.D. students.

A roundup of notable gifts compiled by The Chronicle:

University of Chicago

The investor twin brothers, Thomas and Timothy Pearson, gave $100 million through their Pearson Family Members Foundation to create the Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts, a research institute at the University of Chicago, and the Pearson Global Forum, an annual event that will bring together international policy leaders and scholars from different fields.

A portion of the donation will also establish four professorships in conflict studies and create a fellowship program for graduate students.

New York University

Financiers Ranjan and Chandrika Tandon gave $100 million to the School of Engineering to hire more faculty and to support academic programs. The school will be named for the couple.

Mr. Tandon founded the hedge fund Libra Advisors. Ms. Tandon, a former McKinsey & Company partner, founded Tandon Capital Associates, a financial advisory firm, and is a Grammy-nominated musician. She serves on the university's Board of Trustees and leads its President's Global Council.

University of Florida

Herbert Wertheim, a NASA engineer and clinical optometrist who invented the UV coating for sunglasses, and his wife, Nicole, gave $50 million through their family foundation to significantly expand the College of Engineering.

Mr. Wertheim studied electrical and computer engineering at the university before going on to receive a bachelor’s degree in optical engineering and a doctor of optometry degree from the Southern College of Optometry at the University of Tennessee Medical School.

He founded Brain Power, a manufacturer of ophthalmic instruments, in 1971 and worked as a researcher and lecturer for three decades with the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami.

Drexel University

David and Dana Dornsife gave $45 million to the School of Public Health to establish an urban-health program, endow professorships and scholarships, expand the global public-health program, and support other public-health projects.

Ms. Dornsife received her bachelor’s degree in business from Drexel in 1983. She co-founded Axiom Design, an architectural electronic and lighting-design firm, and founded Adorn, a lighting and interior-design company.

Mr. Dornsife is chairman of Herrick Corporation, a steel fabricator. The school will be name for the couple.

World Vision

The Dornsifes are on a giving spree this month. They also pledged $40 million to World Vision to support its water, sanitation, and hygiene programs in Africa. The money will be paid out over five years.

The couple gave $35 million to World Vision in 2010 and has been involved with the charity since 1981.

Indiana University

David Henry Jacobs gave $20 million to the Jacobs School of Music to endow a deanship and to support faculty salaries, research, scholarships, student travel, and the library.

The music school was named for Mr. Jacobs’s father in 2005 when his mother donated $40.6 million.

The donor is president of David Jacobs Fine Art, which matches private art collections with public institutions, and StillLife Construction, which redevelops historic properties. He attended the Jacobs School of Music in the early 1970s and has served on the Indiana University Foundation’s Board of Directors since 2006.

The university, which recently announced a $2.5-billion fundraising campaign, received an additional $20-million donation from Conrad Prebys, the president of Progress Construction and Management, to endow scholarships and professorships in its Kelley School of Business. The money will also support a new career-services center and an outdoor amphitheater.

Mr. Prebys earned a bachelor of science in general management from the business school in 1955.

In addition, the university’s president Michael McRobbie and his wife, Laurie Burns McRobbie, pledged $1 million to endow a professorship in computer engineering and a professorship in global-strategic studies.

New York Philharmonic

Oscar Straus Schafer, the chairman of the philharmonic’s Board of Directors, and his wife, Didi, gave the organization $25 million. They are directing $20 million of the gift toward endowment and renovations and $5 million toward supporting the symphony’s concerts in Central Park.

Mr. Schafer is chairman of Rivulet Capital, a private-investment firm, and he founded O.S.S. Capital Management in 2001. He became chairman of the Philharmonic in January.

Forest Park Forever

James S. McDonnell III and his wife, Elizabeth, pledged $20 million through their JSM Charitable Trust to help pay for restoration, repairs, and other projects in Forest Park, a large public park in St. Louis.

Mr. McDonnell is a retired aerodynamics engineer who led the McDonnell Douglas Corporation, which his father founded in 1939, until it merged with Boeing in 1997.

University of Washington

Steve Ballmer, a retired chief executive of the Microsoft Corporation, and his wife, Connie, gave $20 million to the university’s School of Social Work with an eye toward reducing the debt of its graduates. About $10 million of the gift will go toward scholarships for graduate students in the school and the rest will support a variety of programs. The couple previously gave the School of Social Work gifts totaling $12 million.

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.