Scientist Leaves $30 Million to University of Mary Washington to Back Undergraduate Research
The late scientist Irene Piscopo Rodgers left $30 million to University of Mary Washington to expand the undergraduate research programs in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics, Earth and environmental sciences, computer science and math; and to establish four new scholarships that will provide full tuition, fees, and room and board for out-of-state undergraduate students for up to four years.
Plus, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Foundation landed $10 million to expand mental health services for U.S. Olympic team athletes, and the Curtis Institute of Music received $10 million to bring renowned chamber-music groups to the school to teach and coach Curtis students.
We’re sorry. Something went wrong.
We are unable to fully display the content of this page.
If you continue to experience issues, contact us at 202-466-1032 or email@example.com
A roundup of notable gifts compiled by the Chronicle:
University of Mary Washington
Irene Piscopo Rodgers left $30 million to expand the university’s undergraduate research programs in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics, Earth and environmental sciences, computer science, and math. The gift will also establish four scholarships that will provide full tuition, fees, and room and board for out-of-state undergraduate students for up to four years.
Rodgers was a scientist who made a name for herself in the field of electron microscopy, working for the American Cyanamid Company and later Philips Electronic Instruments. She earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the university, then known as Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia, in 1959, and went on to earn a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Michigan. She died last year.
Texas A&M Foundation
Dennis and Linda Clark pledged $20 million to help build a new small-animal teaching and research hospital at Texas A&M University’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The new facility will replace the current one, which opened 42 years ago and has struggled in recent years to accommodate an increase in demand for veterinary medicine practitioners and a rise in caseloads.
Dennis Clark earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s in management from the university in 1968 and 1971, respectively. After serving in the U.S. Army, he began a career in the restaurant industry. In 1986, the couple founded Encore Restaurants and eventually owned 39 Sonic Drive-In restaurant franchises throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area. They also founded a commercial real-estate-development business.
The Clarks are longtime clients of the university’s veterinary school and the animal hospital, where two of their dogs underwent knee replacements.
Southern Methodist University
Jack Knox gave $11 million to back the university’s current capital campaign, which aims to raise $1.5 billion in the coming years so it can expand scholarships, fellowships, support for faculty, campus expansion, and other programs.
Knox earned a bachelor’s degree in English from SMU in 1960 and a Juris Doctor from the university’s Dedman School of Law in 1963.
He is general partner of Texas Flags, which owns the real estate and facilities of Six Flags Over Texas, an amusement park in Arlington, Tex. He also owns Café Pacific Restaurants and serves as chairman of Sixx Holdings, which operates Patrizio’s restaurants, which he sold in 2006. Knox worked earlier in his career in the oil and gas industry serving as chairman and CEO of Summit Energy and Western Oil Fields.
Knox founded and is president of the Fund for Sick Children, a private foundation that provides medicine and equipment to hospitals and doctors in developing countries.
Curtis Institute of Music
Penelope Watkins gave $10 million to endow the Penelope P. Watkins Ensemble in Residence program, which launched in 2020 and brings professional quartets to the school to serve as members of the chamber-music faculty and to coach and mentor fledgling string-quartet and other chamber-music musicians. The gift ensures the permanent presence of a major resident ensemble at the school in perpetuity.
Watkins is a longtime member of the school’s Board of Trustees. She worked for the British Foreign Office in London and the Netherlands, and then for the United Nations in the office of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade before coming to the United States in the 1960s and settling in Berwyn, Pa.
James Hambrick gave $10 million to support the duck-hunting and habitat-conservation group’s efforts to shore up the duck population in the Midwest and Canada. Hambrick retired as chairman, president, and CEO of the Lubrizol Corporation, a specialty chemical company in Wickliffe, Ohio, in 2017 after nearly four decades with the corporation.
Beth and Jim Schiff pledged $10 million to expand the Schiff Family Humanities Fund, an endowment the couple established in 2010 to support a broad swath of humanities programs for students and faculty, and provide graduate student and faculty support, fellowship assistance, and programs that build expertise in humanities teaching and research.
Beth York Schiff is a corporate lawyer who earned a bachelor’s degree from Duke in 1981 and a J.D. from the law school in 1985. Jim Schiff is a professor of English at the University of Cincinnati and a son of the late Robert C. Schiff, a prominent Cincinnati businessman and banker who died in 2010. Jim Schiff earned his bachelor’s degree from Duke in 1981 and a Ph.D. in 20th-century American literature from New York University in 1990.
United States Olympic & Paralympic Foundation
Gary and Yucca Rieschel pledged $10 million through their Rieschel Family Foundation to expand the Olympic Committee’s Team USA mental-health program, part of an effort to ensure that every athlete on the U.S. Olympic team has access to a licensed provider who can address any mental-health needs they might have. The couple gave the foundation a previous gift in support of the mental-health program in 2020.
Gary Rieschel co-founded Qiming Venture Partners, a venture-capital firm with headquarters in Shanghai, China, in 2005. The firm invests in internet, health care, and clean-technology businesses. He previously served in executive posts at several investment firms, including Softbank Venture Capital, Mobius Venture Capital, SAIF Partners, and Ignition Partners. He started his career working for technology companies such as Intel, Sequent Computer Systems, and Cisco Systems. The couple divide their time between homes in Big Sky, Mont., and Shanghai.
To learn about other big donations, see our database of gifts of $1 million or more, which is updated regularly.