Retired Construction Executive Gives $75 Million to U. of St. Thomas
Retired Minnesota construction executive Lee Anderson and his wife, Penny, gave $75 million to support the construction of University of St. Thoma’s new sports arena, which will house its men’s and women’s hockey and basketball programs, and serve as a venue for commencement ceremonies and other events. The arena will be named for the Andersons and is scheduled to open in 2025.
Plus, four Mars candy company heiresses together gave $22 million to back a science, technology, engineering, arts, and math programs at a prep school for girls.
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A roundup of notable gifts compiled by the Chronicle:
University of St. Thomas
Lee and Penny Anderson gave $75 million to support the construction of the university’s new sports arena, which will house its men’s and women’s hockey and basketball programs and serve as a venue for commencement ceremonies and other events. The arena will be named for the Andersons and is scheduled to open in 2025.
Lee Anderson is the retired head of APi Group, a construction engineering company with headquarters in New Brighton, Minn. He joined the company in 1964 when it was an insulation contractor and division of his father’s plumbing company. He expanded the company over the decades and sold his interest in it in 2019 to J2 Acquisition Limited, a publicly traded acquisition company, for $2.9 billion.
The Andersons are not University of St. Thomas alumni, but Lee Anderson grew up nearby. The couple are longtime donors to the university and gave $60 million in 2007 to build a student center and other facilities.
University of Utah
John and Marcia Price gave a $35 million gift through their John and Marcia Price Family Foundation to support a number of programs within the College of Engineering as well as the construction of a new computing and engineering building. The college will be named for the Prices in February.
The money will be used to endow student scholarships, pay for labs and equipment, and support educational and other programs. The grant will also support the new John and Marcia Price Computing and Engineering Building. This gift adds to a $15 million donation the couple gave the university in 2021.
John Price is an American diplomat and former U.S. ambassador to Mauritius, Comoros, and the Seychelles. He earned a bachelor’s degree in geological engineering at the university in 1956 and started his career as the founder of a construction company, which evolved into the commercial real-estate development firm JP Realty.
Sisters Victoria Beth Mars and Pamela Mars Wright and two of their daughters, Bernadette Schuetz Russell and Charlotte Audrey Rossetter, gave $22 million to build a wing onto the school’s main academic building. The new wing will house the school’s science, technology, engineering, arts, and math program. All four women are heirs to the Mars candy company fortune and Foxcroft alumnae.
Victoria Beth Mars is a former chairwoman of Mars Incorporated and current chair of the Salzburg Global Seminar, an international public-affairs nonprofit in Salzburg Austria. She graduated from the school in 1974. Bernadette Schuetz Russell, one of Victoria Beth Mars’s daughters, is a pediatric nurse practitioner and a 2003 Foxcroft graduate.
Pamela Mars Wright is also a former the chairwoman of Mars and a former supervisory board member of Heineken International, a brewing company in Amsterdam. She graduated from Foxcroft in 1978. Her daughter, Charlotte Audrey Rossetter, a 2012 Foxcroft graduate, is pursuing a doctorate in industrial and organizational psychology.
Furman University Athletics
Ravenel Curry III pledged $10 million to support renovations to Timmons Arena, home to the university’s men’s and women’s basketball programs. Curry graduated from Furman in 1963 and went on to found Eagle Capital Management, an investment firm in New York. He gave the university $1 million in 2004 to support the Chinese studies program and to help pay for students to study in China.
New York Law School
Diane and Arthur Abbey gave $10 million to support a range of efforts including scholarships, academic programs, and the expansion of social-justice programs. Arthur Abbey earned his law degree from the law school in 1959. He is the senior founding partner and chief trial attorney at the law firm Abbey Spanier, LLP. He has been a member of the law school’s Board of Trustees for 27 years and the chairman of its board for 23 years.
Diane Abbey founded the law school’s Diane Abbey Law Institute for Children and Families, which provides students with opportunities to gain experience working in family court and with government agencies and nonprofits charged with protecting children and families. She formerly she taught English as a second language to students at Theodore Roosevelt High School in the Bronx.
To learn about other big donations, see our database of gifts of $1 million or more, which is updated regularly.