24. RICHARD D. COLBURN–A commitment of $42 million to the COLBURN SCHOOL OF PERFORMING ARTS in Los Angeles, across the street from the future home of the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Of the gift, $20 million created an endowment for the school, and $22 million paid for the new school building. Colburn, 87, was chairman of U.S. Rentals, based in Modesto, Calif., which he started at age 65. The company went public in 1997 and was bought by United Rentals Inc. of Greenwich, Conn., earlier this year. Colburn took his first music lesson at age 7, when his mother gave him a surprise birthday gift of a violin and took him to his first lesson. “She thought every person should be exposed to music,” he told the New York Times. He co-founded the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra in 1968, plays the viola, and was once a member of the local musicians’ union.
25. JON HUNTSMAN–$40 million to the Wharton School of the UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA from the founder, chairman, and CEO of the Huntsman Corp., the biggest privately held U.S. chemical company. Huntsman, a 1959 Wharton graduate, has specified that the school may use the gift at its discretion. The Huntsman family’s total contributions to Wharton now top $50 million. In July, he announced that a sizable portion of the hundreds of millions of dollars he will receive from the sale of Huntsman Corp.’s styrenics business to Nova Chemicals Corp. will fund the Jon and Karen Huntsman Foundation, which supports humanitarian and charitable causes, including the Huntsman Cancer Institute, hospitals, and homeless shelters.
26. GEORGE SOROS–a total of $38.6 million: $20 million to the PUSHKIN PROJECT to fund Russia’s cash-strapped provincial libraries. “My aim is to help Russian culture,” Soros told reporters at a Moscow press conference. Publishing houses will provide 3,500 provincial libraries with 1,000 books annually, and the Soros Foundation will provide $20 million for libraries in 1998 and more money next year. Other partners involved in the project will contribute 25 percent this year, 50 percent next year, and 75 percent in the third year. “My hope is that it will have a lasting effect and … not disappear when my support disappears,” Soros said. Also, a $9 million matching grant to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR PUBLIC INTEREST LAW to encourage law firms and corporations to provide legal services to low-income individuals and communities. (Soros’ Open Society Institute has already donated more than $50 million for advocacy on behalf of legal immigrants denied access to public assistance.) And $1 million to fund the distribution of clean needles to drug addicts through the TIDES FOUNDATION in San Francisco. Plus, $6.4 million to expand after-school programs in 25 NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS, $1 million to fund a vote education drive to combat voter apathy in South Africa, and $1.2 million over four years to the MARYLAND STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION’s Correctional Education Program. The money will fund postsecondary courses and help prison inmates find jobs.
27. KATHERINE B. LOKER–a total of $34 million: $17 million to the UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA from this alumna. This includes $15 million to support hydrocarbon research and $2 million to fund a new track and field stadium, which will be named for Loker, who, with her late husband, Donald, has given more than $27 million to the university. Also, $17 million to HARVARD UNIVERSITY (Mass.), including $15 million for Widener Library and $2 million for women’s athletics. In the early ‘90s Loker gave $11 million to Harvard to enable the renovation of the lower level of Memorial Hall into the Katherine Bogdanovich Loker Commons. Loker’s late husband was an alumnus of Harvard College.
28. THE JOSEPH L. and PHYLLIS MAILMAN FAMILY–$33 million through their family’s foundation to the COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY School of Public Health (N.Y.), the largest donation made to a school of public health. The school is now named in honor of the late Joseph L. Mailman, a founder of the Mailman Corp., one of the earliest conglomerates in North America. The gift will be used for faculty salaries, financial aid for students, and research into such areas as AIDS, cancer, women’s reproductive health, and health care for the poor. The Mailman Foundation, with assets of less than $50 million, consists of four family members and no staff. The family had planned to donate less than $6 million but, after considering many different projects to help disadvantaged people, ended up committing far more because the school combines public policy with hands-on treatment. No one from the Mailman family has attended Columbia.
29. C. EDWARD and CAROLE McVANEY–$32.2 million to the UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA in Lincoln from these alumni to establish an honors program in computer science designed to attract top technology students from across the country, hire prominent faculty, and award scholarships. The gift, which is the largest ever to the university system, will establish the J.D. Edwards Honors Program in Computer Science and Management. The McVaneys have agreed to provide $4.6 million annually to the program after its fifth year, if it is successful.
30. ROBERT E. McDONOUGH–$30 million to GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY (Washington) for the business school, which has been renamed for him. The gift will be disbursed over several years. McDonough, 76, attended evening classes at the Jesuit college while working the midnight shift as a U.S. Capitol policeman in the 1940s. After graduating from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, he worked for the United Nations in Yugoslavia, then moved to California and opened RemedyTemp Inc. in 1965. His company now has 230 offices and annual revenues of $500 million. “I just had a good feeling about Georgetown,” McDonough said. “It touched my soul when I went there, when I first walked through the gates.”
31. ALBERTO W. VILAR–a total of $29.1 million: $25 million to the METROPOLITAN OPERA (N.Y.) in the form of a $20 million donation and a $5 million challenge gift. The Met will name its grand-tier level for him. Vilar sits on the Met’s executive committee, is a vice chairman of its endowment campaign and, with this gift, has contributed about $40 million to the Met in recent years. Also, $4.1 million to the HOSPITAL FOR SPECIAL SURGERY (New York City) to establish the Center for Hand and Upper Extremity Research. In 1996, Vilar had elbow surgery at the hospital after a skiing accident. The 57-year-old Cuban native is founder and president of Amerindo Investment Advisors, a $2.4 billion high-tech investment firm.
Photographs of: George Soros from AP; Katherine B. Loker courtesy of USC News Service; the Mailman family by Charles E. Manley.