News and analysis
January 23, 2017

Gifts Roundup: Grocery Executive Gives $100 Million to Train School Leaders


Charles Butt, head of supermarket chain H-E-B, has given $100 million to establish an academy for public-school administrators in the company’s home state of Texas.

A roundup of notable gifts compiled by The Chronicle:

Holdsworth Center

Charles Butt, chief executive of his family’s H-E-B Grocery Company, gave $100 million to create the Holdsworth Center, an Austin, Tex., training academy for public-school administrators.

The center will provide programs for current principals and superintendents and groom future education leaders. It is named for the donor’s mother, Mary Elizabeth Holdsworth Butt, a retired teacher and local philanthropist.

Ruth Simmons, a former president of Brown University and Smith College, will chair the center’s governing board.

Santa Clara University

John and Susan Sobrato donated $100 million to support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. The gift will pay for a 300,000-square-foot complex incorporating the university’s engineering and natural-science departments and containing laboratories, classrooms, and areas for student projects.

Mr. Sobrato heads the Sobrato Organization, a property-development company in Silicon Valley. A Santa Clara alumnus, he is a longtime donor to the university and a member of its Board of Trustees.

University of Houston

Kathrine McGovern gave $20 million through her family’s John P. McGovern Foundation to endow the College of Arts, which will be named for her.

Ms. McGovern was married to the late John McGovern, a pediatrician and allergist who made a fortune through real-estate investments. She studied art and design at the university in the 1950s and ‘60s.

Marquette University

Ray and Kay Eckstein pledged $10 million toward construction of a new residence hall, with the stipulation that the university raises an additional $10 million in private support for the project.

The Ecksteins met at Marquette and both graduated in 1949: Mr. Eckstein with a law degree and Ms. Eckstein with a degree in speech. He started a law practice and, subsequently, two transport companies, Wisconsin Barge Lines and Marquette Transportation.

Denison University

Michael Eisner, former chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, gave more than $5 million through his foundation for a new performing-arts building.

Mr. Eisner graduated from Denison in 1964. The new arts center will be named for him.

University of Virginia

Bill and Joanne Conway committed $5 million for the university’s clinical nurse master’s program.

The money will support scholarships for more than 110 new nurses with a focus on students from underrepresented and minority groups, including men.

Mr. Conway is a co-founder of the Carlyle Group, a private-equity firm in Washington, D.C.

University of Oregon

Keith and Julie Thomson gave $2 million to the College of Education’s Hedco Clinic to endow a director position.

Ms. Thomson graduated from the College of Education in 1965 and went on to become a grade-school teacher. She helped lead the fundraising campaign to build the college’s new home, which opened in 2009.

Mr. Thomson is a retired vice president and Oregon site manager for the Intel Corporation.

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