News and analysis
February 01, 2016

Gifts Roundup: $50 Million to Cornell U. and $70 Million to Barnard College

Amber Snow, Cornell University
Robert Smith's $50 million gift will endow Cornell's school of chemical and biomolecular engineering and encourage Africa-American and women students to study there.
A roundup of notable gifts compiled by The Chronicle:

Cornell University

Financier Robert Smith pledged $50 million to endow the Robert Frederick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, support African-American and female students studying engineering, and pay for a fellowship at Cornell Tech, the university’s New York City campus.

Mr. Smith, a Cornell alumnus, founded Vista Equity Partners, a private-equity firm focused on investments in enterprise software and technology businesses.

The donation will come from him and through his Fund II Foundation, a nonprofit he started that seeks to advance social change and entrepreneurship and preserve African-American culture, human rights, music education, and the environment.

Barnard College

The college received three donations last week: $25 million from Cheryl and Philip Milstein; $25 million from Leonard Tow and his daughter Emily Tow Jackson through their family foundation; and $20 million from Diana and Roy Vagelos.

Cheryl Milstein, Emily Tow Jackson, and Diana Vagelos graduated from Barnard in 1982, 1988, and 1955, respectively. The gifts will go toward building a new teaching and learning center and related programs.

Ms. Milstein is vice chair of the college’s board. Her husband owns Ogden CAP Properties, a real-estate firm. Ms. Tow Jackson is a Barnard trustee and leads the Tow Foundation. Her father founded Century Communications Corporation, a cable-television and cellular company he later sold.

Ms. Vagelos serves on Barnard’s executive committee. Her husband is a former head of the pharmaceuticals giant, Merck & Company. Their gift will create the teaching and learning center’s computational science center and endow a director position and a professorship in chemistry.

Art Institute of Chicago

Art collector Dorothy Braude Edinburg left more than $35 million to the institute to back acquisitions of new works of prints and drawings from the Renaissance to 1960 and Asian ceramics. She died last year at age 94.

Ms. Edinburg gave the museum more than 1,000 works of art in 2013, establishing the Harry B. and Bessie K. Braude Memorial Collection, named for her parents. The collection included European prints and drawings, Chinese and Korean stoneware and porcelains, and Japanese printed books.

She was the widow of the late Joseph Edinburg, who led Chandler and Farquhar hardware suppliers in Boston.

Brown University

Jonathan Nelson, founder of Providence Equity Partners, gave $25 million to establish the Jonathan M. Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship. He graduated form the university in 1977.

The center will operate in collaboration with other university centers, departments, and graduate schools to provide students with academic training in entrepreneurship, mentorship programs, and hands-on experiences in other fields.

Wesleyan University

Joshua and Amy Boger donated $20 million to support scholarships, a professorship, and research. Mr. Boger graduated from Wesleyan in 1973.

He founded Vertex Pharmaceuticals in 1989 and retired in 2009. He is executive chairman of Alkeus Pharmaceuticals.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Ken and Cheryl Williams gave $10 million for cancer research at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center

Mr. Williams received a master’s degree from the School of Public Health in 1970 and a doctorate in 1976. He retired as vice president of Quintiles, a contract research company.

Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Businesswoman Anne McNulty is giving $10 million through her family’s McNulty Foundation for the Wharton Leadership Program, which will be named for the donor.

Ms. McNulty earned and an M.B.A. at Wharton in 1979. She co-founded the investment-management firm JBK Partners and was previously a managing director at Goldman Sachs.

Drexel University

Robert and Penny Fox pledged $2 million to create a center for historic costume exhibition and research within the university’s Robert and Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection of the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design.

The new center will include a gallery to display items from the collection and a meeting space for lectures and other public programs. The gift will also support an archives specialist and a collections manager.

The collection of more than 14,000 garments, textiles, and accessories spans three centuries. It was named for the donors when they gave $1 million in 2014.

Robert Fox leads R.A.F. Industries, a private-investment company.

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