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August 31, 2016

Ilitches’ $40 Million Wayne State Gift Has Academic Strings

A $40 million donation last fall from Detroit food and sports moguls Mike and Marian Ilitch to build a new business school at contains stipulations related to curriculum and the department dean’s pay, the Detroit Free Press reports.

The October pledge will fund construction of a new university building in an area near downtown that is undergoing a redevelopment spearheaded by the Ilitches, who founded pizzeria chain Little Caesar’s and own the Detroit Tigers and Red Wings. The gift agreement includes provisions that the business school be permanently named for Mike Ilitch; that its leader earn at least as much as any other Wayne State dean; and that the family be consulted on business-course offerings, although the university will retain final say on curriculum.

Susan Burns, who joined the university as vice president for development and alumni affairs a few months after its board approved the Ilitch agreement, called the pact “robust” but not unusual for a high-dollar donation. "Everyone wants to make sure everything is all spelled out," she said.