The Slate60

The Top 10 Anonymous Gifts of 1996 


(Note: The list actually runs to 17. The last eight contributors tie at $5 million.)

1. $50 million from a “team of trustees” to the MUSEUM OF MODERN ART (N.Y.). The donation enabled the Museum to buy a chunk of prime real estate abutting its midtown Manhattan location. The trustees, who wished to remain anonymous, knew the Museum wanted to expand.

2. $35 million from a “wealthy New England family with a history of philanthropic activity” to create a Massachusetts-based institute aimed at exploring and encouraging a civil society. The institute will finance research at, and award grants to, community-based organizations in support of innovative solutions to problems that undermine institutions such as families, cultural traditions, and communities that make up the “social” part of society. The institute’s first project, “New Century/New Solutions,” will be led by Pat Schroeder, the Colorado Democrat who has served 12 years in the U.S. House of Representatives.

3. $34 million bequest pledge from the estate of a couple to IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY. The couple has asked the university to create an endowment for the College of Agriculture from this gift.

4. $25 million challenge gift to MISSISSIPPI COLLEGE for its capital campaign. The gift is unrestricted and must be matched by gifts from other donors over five years.

5. $21 million in a charitable remainder trust to the AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR TECHNION-ISRAEL INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY in Haifa, Israel.

6. $15 million to the JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY School of Medicine (Md.). Of this, $10 million will be used to create a permanent endowment for faculty development and other programs. The remainder is a challenge to encourage other donors to contribute to renovations of the school’s basic research facilities.

7. $12 million in a charitable remainder unitrust to CLARK COLLEGE FOUNDATION (Wash.) for scholarships, programs, and capital improvements.

8. $8.4 million to create a faculty-recruitment program at CORNELL UNIVERSITY (N.Y.).

9. $5.5 million to CORNELL UNIVERSITY to create the Research Scholars Program to team students with faculty mentors for paid research projects.

10. $5 million to CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY (Calif.) from a donor to construct a new student center and freshman dormitory, and to serve as a challenge for future donations.

10. $5 million to GANNON UNIVERSITY (Pa.) for scholarships.

10. $5 million to the John F. Kennedy School of Government at HARVARD UNIVERSITY (Mass.) to expand the work of the Malcolm H. Wiener Center for Social Policy. The anonymous pledge is intended to permit the expansion of the faculty with a chair for distinguished scholars, facilitate the incorporation of the Criminal Justice Program into the Wiener Center, and encourage a new initiative to expand employment in the repair of the infrastructure and environment for the less highly skilled.

10. $5 million to the HARVARD UNIVERSITY Art Museums toward the renovation and construction of galleries for contemporary art.

10. $5 million to PRINCETON UNIVERSITY (N.J.) for program support.

10. $5 million to STANFORD UNIVERSITY (Calif.) to help ensure that every first-year student has the opportunity to interact with a faculty member in a small-group setting. The pledge “came from a former Stanford student who, as a freshman, had mostly large lecture classes,” says President Gerhard Casper. The pledge will augment a $15 million donation provided by PETER BING, an alumnus and former trustee who has provided seed money for the undergraduate initiative.

10. $5 million to the UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA to endow and expand its honors programs.

10. $5 million to the UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA to advance teaching and research in environmental sciences.