November 09, 2015

Gifts Roundup: President Obama’s Prep School Gets $10 Million

A roundup of notable gifts compiled by The Chronicle:

Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Donald Sirkin, a Seattle businessman who died last year, left the organization $125 million and did not specify how he wanted the money used.

Mr. Sirkin founded several businesses including a trade newspaper for construction contractors called Construction Weekly and Contractors Bonding and Insurance Company.

Brown University

Three donors and a foundation jointly gave $50 million to Brown’s Thomas J. Watson Jr. Institute for International and Public Affairs.

Half of the donation will pay for a new building and the other $25 million will go toward hiring more faculty and supporting existing research and other programs.

The donors include Stephen Robert, a former chief executive of Oppenheimer & Company who served as chancellor from 1998 to 2007 and graduated from the university in 1962; and Thomas Tisch, a 1976 alumnus and the current Brown chancellor, and his wife, Alice. Mr. Tisch is managing partner of the Four Partners investment firm.

The Thomas J. and Olive C. Watson Jr. Foundation, administered by David McKinney, a former university trustee and a fellow of the Corporation of Brown University who retired as senior vice president at IBM, also contributed to the donation.

Ohio State University

Edward Claugus, who died in 2013, left more than $14 million to support the College of Engineering and the William G. Lowrie Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. The money will endow scholarships and professorships, provide operating support, and pay for a variety of programs.

Mr. Claugus ran a hedge fund and was an airplane enthusiast. He died when the single-engine airplane he was flying near the Idaho and Oregon border hit a power line and crashed.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the university in 1981 and was the youngest of four brothers, all of whom graduated from Ohio State.


Timothy Ubben, the founder of Lincoln Capital Management, and his wife, Sharon, gave $10 million to endow the music director position of the Naples Philharmonic. Mr. Ubben has served on the board of Artis-Naples, a performing- and visual-arts center, since 2008.

The center also received a collection of modern and contemporary art for its Baker Museum from Paul and Charlotte Corddry. Corddry is the retired president of Ore-Ida Foods.

Punahou School

An anonymous donor has given the school $10 million to support financial aid. The donor is a woman who graduated from the private Honolulu academy. President Obama graduated from the school in 1979.

Auburn University

Dorothy Davidson, the chief executive of Davidson Technologies, gave $5 million to the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering to renovate the electrical engineering department’s building.

Ms. Davidson and her late husband, Julian Davidson, a 1950 Auburn electrical engineering graduate and a defense industry pioneer, founded Davidson Technologies, a company that provides engineering, technical, and management solutions for the defense and aerospace industries.

Florida Atlantic University

Christine Lynn, a former nurse and head of the Lynn Insurance Group, gave $5 million for a sports medicine center in the Department of Athletics. The center has been named the Lynn Sports Medicine Center.

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