Article
December 12, 2016

Gifts Roundup: Denver Art Museum Gets $25 Million to Revamp Wing

Denver Museum of Art

J. Landis and Sharon Martin, who gave $25 million to renovate the Denver Museum of Art's 45-year-old North Building.

A roundup of notable gifts compiled by The Chronicle:

Denver Art Museum

J. Landis and Sharon Martin gave $25 million to renovate the museum’s North Building.

The wing, informally known as the Gio Ponti building after its architect, will be renamed for the donors when the renovation is completed in 2021.

Mr. Martin, a former corporate lawyer who founded private-equity firm Platte River Equity, chairs the museum’s Board of Trustees. He and his wife have been involved with the institution since the 1990s.

Roosevelt University

A $25-million gift from the estates of Rosaline Cohn and her daughter, Marcia Cohn, will endow scholarships.

Rosaline Cohn was the widow of Jacob Cohn, who started the Continental Coffee Company in 1915. The family later expanded the business and renamed it CFS Continental in 1970, when it went public. In 1984 the Cohns sold the company for $353 million. Rosaline and Marcia Cohn died in 2010 and 2015, respectively.

The terms of the bequest enable university officials to use roughly $1.2 million each year for scholarships. Jacob Cohn, who died in 1968, was an early donor to Roosevelt, giving the Chicago institution $200 three months after it opened in 1945. He made annual donations of $100 until 1957, when he increased his contributions to $500 a year.

Henry Ford Health System

Detroit businessman Mort Harris gave $20 million for a new building for cancer care and research. The facility will be named for the donor’s wife, Brigitte Harris, who died of pancreatic cancer.

Mr. Harris is a former president of Mercier Corporation, a maker of metallurgical products, and a co-founder of American Axle & Manufacturing.

He had previously given the health system a total of $20 million over three decades.

Michigan State University

Computer scientist John Koza pledged $10.7 million to the university’s College of Engineering for the Beacon Center for the Study of Evolution in Action, one of the National Science Foundation’s Science and Technology Centers.

The money will endow two professorships in a field that aims to develop computational tools inspired by nature. It will also endow fellowships, prizes, and programs in genetic programming and evolutionary computation.

Mr. Koza is known for his pioneering work in the use of genetic programming to solve complex problems. He has taught classes on evolutionary computation and genetic programming at Stanford University and co-founded the Scientific Games Corporation, a company that built computer systems to run U.S. state lotteries. In 2014 he gave Michigan State $2 million to endow a professorship in genetic programming.

Boston University

Physician Shamim Dahod and her husband, Ashraf Dahod, donated $2 million to renovate the Boston University Castle, a century-old mansion the university is revamping to serve as an alumni center. The building will be named for the couple.

Dr. Dahod earned her bachelor’s and medical degrees at the university and has been a member of its Board of Trustees since 2013. Mr. Dahod is a computer engineer who co-founded Starent Networks, which makes networking products for mobile communications. He sold the company to Cisco Systems in 2009 and now leads another mobile-technology firm, Altiostar Networks.

The couple gave $10.5 million to Boston University’s School of Medicine in 2008 to establish the Shamim and Ashraf Dahod Breast Cancer Research Center and endow assistant-professor and international-scholar posts there.

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