Article
June 27, 2016

Gifts Roundup: Israel’s Ben-Gurion University Lands $400 Million for Water Research

Dani Machlis

Lottie and Howard Marcus at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in 2005. Dr. Marcus, a dentist and physician who died in 2014, and his wife, who passed away last year, bequeathed approximately $400 million to the Israeli institution.

A roundup of notable gifts compiled by The Chronicle:

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Howard and Lottie Marcus left approximately $400 million to the U.S. fundraising arm of the university to back Ben-Gurion’s Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research.

Dr. Marcus, a dentist and physician, died in 2014 at age 104, and Ms. Marcus died late last year at 99. The Marcuses were early investors in Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, and the bequest represents the bulk of their estate.

The couple shared similar backgrounds: They both escaped Nazi Germany in the 1930s, and their parents and other family members perished in concentration camps. They met in New York in the 1940s and spent their later years in San Diego. They met Mr. Buffett in the 1960s when Ms. Marcus was working as a secretary for an investment firm.

Carnegie Hall

Leonard Blavatnik gave $25 million through the Blavatnik Family Foundation to support the music venue’s artistic, educational, digital programs.

Mr. Blavatnik, a Carnegie Hall trustee, founded Access Industries, which has holdings in oil, entertainment, coal, aluminum, petrochemicals and plastics, telecommunications, media, and real estate in Europe and North and South America.

Carnegie Hall officials plan to name the first tier section of seats in the venue’s main auditorium for the Blavatnik family.

University of Michigan

Sidney and Madeline Forbes pledged $17.5 million to establish the Forbes Institute for Cancer Discovery within the university’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The money will pay for research, scholarships, a professorship in oncology, and other programs.

Mr. Forbes founded the Forbes Company, a commercial real-estate firm that develops and manages luxury shopping centers.

University of Florida

Joseph Hernandez donated $10 million to endow the university’s chemistry department and back research, financial aid, and a new chemistry building that will be named for him.

Mr. Hernandez founded the health-related companies Microlin Bio, Sydys Corporation, Ember Therapeutics, and Prolias Technologies. He earned a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from the university in 1996 and master’s degrees in business administration and medical sciences in 1998.

University of California at Los Angeles

The physicist and author Mani Bhaumik gave $11 million to create the Mani L. Bhaumik Institute for Theoretical Physics.

Mr. Bhaumik was born in the Indian state of West Bengal and rose from poverty to play a key role in developing the laser technology that helped lead the way to Lasik eye surgery.

He worked for Xerox Electro-Optical Systems as a laser scientist in the 1960s and later served as director of the laser-technology laboratory at Northrop Grumman Corporation’s research laboratory.

The donor wrote two books, Code Name God and The Cosmic Detective, and created the animated TV series Cosmic Quantum Ray.

University of Oregon

Allyn and Cheryl Ramberg Ford donated $7 million for the renovation of a science building.

Mr. Ford leads Roseburg Forest Products, a wood-products company his father started in 1936. He currently serves on the university’s Board of Trustees.

San Francisco State University

Neda Nobari, a former director and vice chairman of Bebe Stores, gave $5 million to establish and endow the Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies.

Ms. Nobari emigrated from Iran to the United States in 1978 when she was 15. She graduated from the university in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and today serves on the Board of Directors of the San Francisco State University Foundation.

In 2015 she earned a master’s degree in liberal studies from Dartmouth College and while there focused her research on the intersection of the diaspora and cultural identity of Iranian-American women.

University of Delaware

Donald Puglisi and his wife, Marichu Valencia, pledged $5 million to the Donald J. Puglisi and Marichu C. Valencia Music Enrichment Fund, an endowment they established in 2010 to support the university’s Department of Music.

The money will go toward student ensembles, visiting professors, guest artists, instrument equipment, and travel costs to conferences.

Mr. Puglisi, a retired finance professor who taught at the university for 30 years, leads Puglisi and Associates, an accounting and administrative-services firm. Ms. Valencia retired as a senior interior designer with the State Department’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations.

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