The Slate60

The 1997 Slate 60The 60 largest American charitable contributions of 1997.

11. THE HOBBY FAMILY–Total 1997 contributions: $33.4 million. This includes: a $12-million pledge to the MUSIC HALL FOUNDATION (Houston) to help build a new $75-million music hall downtown. City officials and the foundation recently announced plans to demolish the extant Music Hall and the attached Sam Houston Coliseum after the 1997-98 theater season and to build a new facility using mostly private donations. Also: $21.4 million to RICE UNIVERSITY (Texas) for its Fondren Library, one of the largest donations made to a library anywhere. Rice President Malcolm Gillis said, “It is especially gratifying that the first major gift toward our goal of creating a library for the next century should come from a distinguished and widely respected Texas family with deep and long-standing ties to Rice.” The Hobby gift may be used for programmatic or capital purposes.

12. PAUL G. ALLEN–Total 1997 contributions: $31.8 million. This includes: $5 million to the STARBRIGHT PEDIATRIC FOUNDATION (Los Angeles) to create, develop, and research “entertainment interventions” to help seriously ill children cope with the pain, stress, and loss of childhood they experience on a daily basis. Also: $3.2 million to the UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON for prostatitis research from the Paul G. Allen Foundation for Medical Research; $2.1 million to STANFORD UNIVERSITY (Calif.) for the Center for Computational Genetics and Biological Modeling; and $2 million to SURVIVORS OF THE SHOAH FOUNDATION (Calif.), the philanthropy created by Steven Spielberg after he made the movie Schindler’s List (the gift will support the Shoah Foundation’s campaign to raise $50 million to create the largest multimedia archive of Holocaust-survivor testimonies ever assembled); $10 million to his alma mater, LAKESIDE SCHOOL, as part of a challenge gift with Bill Gates and the McCaw family for education and construction. Other gifts (totaling $2 million) in the third quarter of 1997 include: BURKE MUSEUM (Seattle): $100,000; CHILDREN’S MUSEUM (Spokane, Wash.): $75,000; CORPORATE COUNCIL FOR THE ARTS (Seattle): $156,637; HABITAT FOR HUMANITY (Seattle): $60,000; LOPEZ COMMUNITY CENTER (Wash.): $100,000; PACIFIC NORTHWEST BALLET: $250,000; SEATTLE ART MUSEUM: $100,000; OVERLAKE HOSPITAL FOUNDATION (Seattle): $75,000; SENIORS MAKING ART (Bellevue): $30,000; FOUR WINDS WESTWARD HO CAMP (Deer Harbor, Wash.): $100,000. And fourth-quarter gifts (totaling $7,539,000) include $2.5 million to the SEATTLE PUBLIC LIBRARY FOUNDATION, $1 million to the DOERNBECHER CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL (Portland, Ore.), and $1 million to WHITMAN COLLEGE (Walla Walla, Wash.).

13. ROBERT H. SR. and NANCY DEDMAN–Total 1997 contributions: $31.5 million. This includes: $30 m illion to SOUTHERN METHODIST UNIVERSITY (Dallas). The largest single gift in the university’s history, it was announced at the start of SMU’s capital campaign. The donors have designated that $12 million of their gift be used as a challenge grant to build a new life-sciences building to be named the Dedman Life Sciences Building. It will house SMU’s biological-sciences department and include research facilities and classrooms for all the natural sciences. Through the years, the Dedmans have pledged or given securities currently valued at more than $42 million to SMU. Also: $1.5 million to FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY in Tallahassee to help construct a new building for the College of Business’ department of hospitality administration. As the founder and chairman of the board of ClubCorp International, Robert Dedman developed the largest global network of private city, country, and athletic clubs. He has also developed public golf courses and resorts around the world.

14. EUGENE M. LANG–$30 million to establish a “Fund for the Future” at SWARTHMORE COLLEGE (Pa.), the largest gift made to the college. Lang said that he and his family will work with leaders of the college to determine the ultimate designations of the gift. Lang, a 1938 alumnus of the college and chairman emeritus of the board, is the retired chairman of REFAC Technology Development Corp. and the founder of the “I Have a Dream” Foundation. Lang has given the school $50 million in gifts to date. While working as a dishwasher at a New York restaurant, Lang was encouraged to consider attending the college by restaurant patron and Swarthmore alumnus George B. Jackson. Lang entered Swarthmore at 15 and graduated in 1938. One of his earliest gifts to the college established a scholarship in honor of Jackson. Lang founded REFAC in 1952 and built it into the world’s largest single organization specializing in the negotiation and administration of international manufacturing licenses and joint ventures.

14. WILLIAM A. and JOAN SCHREYER–$30 million to PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY from the chairman emeritus of Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., the worldwide financial-services firm, and his wife to create an honors college within the university. The Schreyer Honors College will be a multidisciplinary center for top undergraduates, with the first 300 freshmen to be admitted next fall. All students will receive a scholarship covering half their tuition. The college will provide study-abroad opportunities, professional internships, alumni mentoring, thesis research, and special classes taught by outstanding scholars and teachers. It will be linked with the Schreyer Institute for Innovation in Learning, a think tank established to a) develop and test new approaches to learning and b) implement them throughout the university. William Schreyer, who graduated from Penn State in 1948, has chaired the Penn State campaign and the board of trustees.

16. DEAN and ROSEMARIE BUNTROCK and FAMILY–$26 million to ST. OLAF COLLEGE (Minn.) for a new student center, the largest single gift made to a Lutheran college in the United States. Dean Buntrock is founder of WMX Technologies Inc., an international waste-services company (of which Waste Management is a division) based in Oak Brook, Ill. “I came from a small town, Columbia, S.D., that had few resources to provide quality education. When I came to St. Olaf, a new world was opened to me and I received an education that would forever change my life,” he said. A 1955 graduate, he was a member of the college’s board of regents for 23 years and chairman for eight. He is donor and director, and his wife also a director, of the Dean and Rosemarie Buntrock Foundation (Ill.).

17. H.R. “BUM” BRIGHT–$25 million to TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY for an unrestricted endowment. “Bum” Bright, a 1943 graduate of the univer sity, is a prominent Dallas entrepreneur who once owned the Dallas Cowboys. Officials hailed the no-strings-attached gift as precedent-setting in the annals of alumni support and university giving. Traditionally, gifts to universities are for specified, restricted purposes. “I don’t think it appropriate that anyone should try to rule from the grave,” Bright said. “I can think of no person with more knowledge of the needs of a school than the president.”

17. BERNARD and EDITH LEWIN–More than $25 million, the estimated value of their collection of Mexican Modernist paintings and works on paper given to the LOS ANGELES COUNTY MUSEUM OF ART. It includes works of Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Rufino Tamayo, and José Clemente Orozco. Bernard Lewin was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, in 1906 and fled with his parents in 1938 to Los Angeles. The retired owner of a furniture store chain, he and his wife also owned art galleries in Beverly Hills and Palm Springs.

17. MICHAEL and JUDY OVITZ–$25 million to help rebuild the UCLA medical center, which was damaged during the 1994 Northridge earthquake. The gift, made through the Ovitz Family Foundation, leads off a capital campaign by UCLA to raise $330 million to help rebuild facilities damaged in the quake. The gift is the second-largest philanthropic contribution in UCLA history. Both Ovitzes are UCLA alumni and have supported a broad range of UCLA programs since the late 1970s. Judy Ovitz is actively involved with the humanities division of the College of Letters and Sciences. Michael Ovitz chairs the Executive Board for the Medical Sciences at UCLA and guides its fund-raising efforts. Ovitz received the university’s highest honor, the UCLA Medal, at the School of Medicine commencement ceremony in May 1996.

17. CARL W. and HUNTER J. SMITH–$25 million to the UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA from the fo under of Amvest Corp. and former University of Virginia football player. Most of the money will be used to help pay for a proposed 16,000-seat addition to Scott Stadium. This is the largest single monetary gift in the school’s history. Smith and his wife have previously donated to U.Va.’s schools of architecture, law, medicine, and business, the Children’s Medical Center, and the Jefferson Scholars Program, although varsity athletics remains Carl Smith’s primary interest. “Moving athletics into the top tier of programs in the country has been part of a long-term strategy at the university, and we’re pleased to be able to help accelerate that process,” said Smith, who attended the university on a scholarship. Following Smith’s graduation in 1951, he served in the Army and, in 1961, founded Amvest, an international company specializing in coal mining, natural gas production, trading, and finance. Smith is currently a director of the National Mining Association and the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame.