July 27, 2015

Gifts Roundup: $35 Million to Notre Dame for 2 New Buildings and Football Program

Streeter Lecka, Getty Images

Part of the $35-million donation to the University of Notre Dame will endow the school's head football-coach position.

A roundup of notable gifts compiled by The Chronicle:

University of Notre Dame

Richard Corbett, a Florida real-estate executive who served as the business manager of Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign, gave $35 million to the university, from which he graduated in 1960.

Of the total, the donor gave $25 million for a new building to house the anthropology and psychology departments, and a digital-media center. He also directed $10 million of the gift to endow the university’s head football-coach position.

Houston Baptist University

Archie Dunham, chairman of Chesapeake Energy, and his wife, Linda, gave the university $15 million for scholarships and to support the university’s Dunham Bible Museum. The Dunhams’ son, Cary, is a 1993 graduate of the university.

Ecumen Foundation

Robert Cervenka, a Wisconsin businessman, and his wife, Debbie, gave the foundation $5 million to help senior citizens pay for assisted living and other services at Ecumen, an organization the operates retirement housing and elder-care facilities. The donation is meant to help the elderly pay for care when they outlive their assets.

Mr. Cervenka has received assistance from Ecumen and Ms. Cervenka serves on the organization’s board.

University of California at San Diego

Audrey Geisel, a San Diego philanthropist and the widow of the writer Theodor Geisel, or Dr. Seuss, donated $3 million to renovate and modernize the university’s Geisel Library, which opened in 1972. Ms. Geisel previously gave the library a gift in 1995, the year it was named for her family.

Oregon State University Foundation

Richard Evans, chairman of the aluminum-products company Constellium and Noranda Aluminum Holdings, an aluminum producer, gave $1.5 million along with his wife, Gretchen, an art teacher, to establish a professorship in Oregon State University’s humanitarian-engineering program.

Humanitarian engineering seeks science- and engineering-based solutions to increase access to clean water and renewable energy, enhance the quality of human life, and improve community resilience. The couple are alumni and made prior gifts to help launch the program two years ago.

NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund

A group of nearly two dozen African-American business leaders raised $1 million in 48 hours to donate to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund’s Thurgood Marshal Institute campaign for police reform. The gift helped the fund meet a $2-million matching challenge issued by Atlantic Philanthropies, which pledged a total of $5 million.

Although most of the donors wish to remain anonymous, they are led by William M. Lewis Jr., managing director and co-chairman of investment banking at Lazard; and Charles Phillips, chief executive of Infor Global Solutions. In January, the pair led a campaign to raise money to provide students will free tickets to see the movie "Selma."

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.