Article
October 19, 2015

Gifts Roundup: Finance Industry Titans Pour Millions Into Universities

A roundup of notable gifts compiled by The Chronicle:

Gonzaga University

The late Myrtle Woldson, a Spokane, Wash., businesswoman, left $55 million to the university. Of the total, she directed $30 million toward building a new performing-arts center and $25 million toward endowing scholarships. A portion of the gift includes several parcels of valuable waterfront properties in Seattle.

Ms. Woldson died last year. She had been involved with the university for decades as both a donor and a booster, attending sports and other campus events.

Northwestern University

Patrick and Shirley Ryan pledged $25 million to support research and teaching. Of the total, $10 million will be used to match donations made by others to establish new endowed professorships in a variety of fields.

Mr. Ryan founded the Aon Corporation, a risk-management and insurance-brokerage firm. He graduated from the university in 1959, and Ms. Ryan graduated in 1961.

Together, the Ryans are chairing the university’s $3.75-billion campaign. Two of their three sons are alumni, and another son is on staff in the university’s athletics department.

The university received a second commitment last week. Dennis Chookaszian, a retired chairman and chief executive of CNA Insurance Companies, and his wife, Karen, pledged $6.5 million to establish the Chookaszian Family Program in Computer Science. Mr. Chookaszian earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1965.

Davis & Elkins College

James McDonnell III and his family gave $25 million through their family foundation to endow the college and match gifts from other donors.

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 Notre Dame

James Parsons and Carrie Quinn gave $20 million to endow the new Institute for Global Investing in the university’s Mendoza College of Business, which will focus on investment-management research and education.

Mr. Parsons founded Junto Capital Management and previously served as a portfolio manager for Viking Global Investors. He earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from Notre Dame. Dr. Quinn, an assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai Hospital and the executive director of the Mount Sinai Parenting Center, is also a Notre Dame alumnus.

Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia

James Frye, a retired executive with the tobacco giant Philip Morris Companies, left $20 million to the foundation to endow a fund to support local nonprofits in Virginia and North Carolina.

Before he died in April, Mr. Frye instructed foundation officials to monitor the organizations selected to receive his money and to move support to other charities if they failed to perform effectively or if the charities’ needs dwindled.

Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

The financier David Rubenstein pledged $15 million to the medical school’s Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery to establish a new hearing center focused on restoring functional hearing loss. Mr. Rubenstein co-founded the Carlyle Group, a private-equity firm.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Joleen and Mitch Julis gave $2 million to redesign the museum’s lobby and sculpture garden and to integrate more technology into the museum’s public programs. Mr. Julis co-founded the hedge fund Canyon Capital Advisors. Ms. Julis serves on the Hirshhorn’s Board of Trustees

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.