June 22, 2015

Gifts Roundup: 2 Donations of $50 Million to Universities

Oregon State University

Carlos Alvarez of the Gambrinus Company (center in green sweater).

A roundup of notable gifts compiled by The Chronicle:

University of Wisconsin Foundation

Ab and Nancy Nicholas pledged $50 million to the foundation for undergraduate and athletic scholarships and graduate fellowships for University of Wisconsin at Madison students. The university will have to match the donation from other donors to receive the money.

Mr. Nicholas attended the university on a scholarship and graduated in 1952. He went on to start an investment-management firm. Ms. Nicholas also earned her degree from the university in 1955 and her parents were also students there.

American Technion Society

Andrew Viterbi, a co-founder the Qualcomm Corporation and a digital pioneer, gave $50 million to the American Technion Society for a professorship in electrical and computer engineering at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. The money will also go toward increasing the faculty and attracting more electrical engineering graduate students and pay for upgrades to the university’s teaching and research facilities.

Mr. Viterbi is famous in technology circles for creating a mathematical formula used in many of today’s mobile devices.

Cuyahoga Community College

Brothers Joseph and Morton Mandel gave $10-million to the community college through their Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation. The money will be used to expand the college’s humanities programs, establish a professorship, and create and endow the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Humanities Center, which will be home for lectures, seminars and events.

The three brothers founded the Premier Industrial Corporation in 1940. Jack Mandel died in 2011.

University of Virginia

John Nau III, the president of Silver Eagle Distributors, a beer distributor, and his wife, Bobbie, gave more than $13 million to the university’s College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences to establish the John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History, an institute for scholars, archivists, and students studying the era.

Mr. Nau graduated from the university in 1968 and served on its Board of Trustees.

University of Southern California

Norbert Gehr, the chief executive of the Gehr Group, a corporation with interests in international trade, real estate, manufacturing, and other businesses, left $20 million through a family foundation, to the Keck School of Medicine. Mr. Gehr died in February of acute myeloid leukemia and was treated by doctors at the school. The money will be used to support research into blood diseases, and research into methods for improving health care delivery.


Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, and his wife, Priscilla Chan, gave $5 million to TheDream.US to support college scholarships for more than 400 young immigrants in the San Francisco Bay Area over the next five years.

University of California at Davis

Carlos Alvarez, the founder of the Gambrinus Company, which owns craft beer breweries, gave $1 million last week to the university’s brewing-science program. The money will pay for new brewing and laboratory equipment.

In April, Mr. Alvarez gave a $1-million to Oregon State University for a fermentation-science program.

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

Send an e-mail to Maria Di Mento.