The Slate60

The 2006 Slate 60: Pledges

The 60 largest American charitable contributions of the year.

Warren E. Buffett

Warren E. Buffett—$43.5 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, the Susan A. Buffett Foundation, the NoVo Foundation, and the Nuclear Threat Initiative. Buffett, 76, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, an insurance and investment company in Omaha, Neb., pledged 10 million shares of Berkshire Hathaway Class B stock worth approximately $36.1 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle. The money will be used to support the foundation’s work on global health and improving American schools. Buffett’s pledge to the Gates Foundation is the largest in the history of philanthropy. When Buffett announced his pledge in June, the stock shares were worth more than $30 billion. Buffett paid $1.6 billion—5 percent of the total pledge—last August, when the stock was worth $3,206 per share. He said he would continue to pay the foundation 5 percent of the remaining balance of the earmarked shares every year until his death. To continue to receive the donation, Buffett said, several conditions must be met. Starting in 2009, the Gates Foundation is required to spend Buffett’s annual payout from the previous year, plus the yearly amount the federal government requires all private foundations to disburse, usually at least 5 percent of the value of a foundation’s assets. Buffett also stipulated that either Bill or Melinda Gates must be alive and actively involved in managing the foundation. In addition, Buffett pledged 1 million shares of Class B stock worth $3.6 billion—of which $151.3 million has been paid—to the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, in Omaha. The foundation supports education, medical research, and efforts to curb population growth. It was named for Buffett’s first wife, Susan, who was president of the foundation until her death in 2004. Buffett also pledged 350,000 shares of the stock worth $1.3 billion to each one of his three children’s foundations: the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, in Decatur, Ill.; the Susan A. Buffett Foundation, in Omaha; and the NoVo Foundation, Peter Buffett’s foundation in New York. Each one of the three foundations received $52.9 million last year, and as he did with his pledge to the Gates Foundation, Buffett said he would pay the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation and the three foundations run by his children 5 percent of the remaining balance of the shares every year until his death. Buffett also pledged $50 million to the Nuclear Threat Initiative in Washington, where he has served as an adviser since 2002. The money will be used to establish an international nuclear-fuel reserve to provide uranium for energy use to countries that agree not to build nuclear facilities. The International Atomic Energy Agency will manage the reserve. Buffett said he would fulfill the pledge only if $100 million is raised by governments from across the globe for the project within the next two years.

David Rockefeller

David Rockefeller—$252 million to the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Harvard University, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, International House, the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics, and Historic Hudson Valley. Rockefeller, 91, the retired chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank and heir to the Standard Oil Company fortune, pledged $225 million to the Rockefeller Brothers Fund in New York to establish the David Rockefeller Global Development Fund. The development fund will further the foundation’s support for projects focused on international finance and trade, fighting poverty, improving access to health care, and supporting sustainable development. Rockefeller and his four brothers set up the Rockefeller Brothers Fund in 1940 to pool their money and give more effectively to nonprofit groups in which they shared a common interest. Their father, John D. Rockefeller Jr., gave the foundation $57.7 million in 1952 to establish its endowment, which has since grown to more than $800 million. Although he awarded his largest gift to establish a specific fund, Rockefeller has said he prefers to make donations to a group’s endowment without too many restrictions. “If you pick a good cause that’s run by capable people,” he said, “they’re apt to know more about what is needed and how it should be used than an outside giver. Therefore it seems to me to give flexibility to good managers at causes is a good idea.” To that end, Rockefeller gave five additional gifts, all of which are either unrestricted or will go toward endowment. He pledged $10 million—of which $1 million has been paid—to Harvard University for the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, which he helped establish with a $15 million gift in 1995. He gave $5 million to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, a historic-preservation group in Virginia, and pledged $5 million—of which $2 million has been paid—to International House, a New York postgraduate residential program that seeks to bring together graduate students and interns from all over the world. He also pledged $5 million—of which $1 million has been paid—to the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics in New York; and he pledged $2 million—of which $500,000 has been paid—to Historic Hudson Valley, a historic-preservation group in Tarrytown, N.Y.

Robert W. Wilson—$147.2 million to the World Monuments Fund, Environmental Defense, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Nature Conservancy, and the American Bird Conservancy. Wilson, 80, a retired hedge-fund manager, pledged $67.5 million—of which $6.8 million has been paid—to the World Monuments Fund in New York for programs to preserve historic landmarks in 13 countries throughout Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Wilson, vice chairman of the group’s board of directors, stipulated that the organization must raise at least the amount of his pledge from donors outside the United States to receive all of the money. He promised to donate $1 for every $2 in cases where a foreign government awarded money to the group. He also pledged $40.2 million—of which $3.2 million has been paid—to Environmental Defense in New York for general operating costs and for the group’s work in pushing for greater disclosure about the environmental impact of projects in developing countries. Wilson stipulated that the group must attract donations from private foundations and individuals to get the entire gift. In cases where another donor gives less than $1 million, Wilson will match every dollar with 50 cents; if a donor contributes $1 million or more, Wilson will match each dollar given. In addition, he pledged $30 million—of which $3.8 million has been paid—to the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York for the group’s conservation projects. He also pledged $8.5 million to the Nature Conservancy, in Arlington, Va. Wilson said the group must match his pledged amount with donations from other philanthropists to get all of the money. He promised to pay 50 cents for every dollar donated between $25,000 and $100,000 from U.S. donors, and he will match every dollar beyond $100,000 as well as any donations from donors outside the United States. Wilson has not yet paid any of his pledged amount to the group. Wilson also gave $1 million to American Bird Conservancy in The Plains, Va., to purchase land housing crucial bird habitats in Central and South America.

Dan Duncan with his wife, Jan

Dan L. Duncan Family—$115 million to the Baylor College of Medicine, the Children’s Learning Institute at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Duncan, 74, founder of Enterprise Products Partners, an energy company in Houston, and his family pledged $100 million to Baylor College of Medicine in Houston for the college’s cancer center, which will be named for Dan Duncan. He serves on the institution’s board of trustees. In addition, the family pledged $10 million to the Children’s Learning Institute at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. The money will be paid out over 10 years and will be used to establish a clinic to help children with developmental disorders. The Duncan family also pledged $5 million to the Houston Museum of Natural Science to renovate the museum’s Paleontology Hall and to purchase paleontology specimens.

Phil Knight

Philip H. Knight—$105 million to the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Knight, 68, a co-founder of Nike in Beaverton, Ore., pledged $105 million to the Stanford University Graduate School of Business in California. The money will be used to help pay for a new campus, to be called the Knight Management Center. Most of the pledge—$100 million—will pay for the construction of eight buildings that will make up the new business-school campus. The remaining $5 million will be used to match gifts from other donors and to help finance faculty salaries. Knight earned a master’s degree in business administration from Stanford in 1962. University officials and Knight declined to disclose the financial details of the pledge.

Ronald P. Stanton—$100 million to Yeshiva University. Stanton, 78, chairman of Transammonia—a corporation in New York that trades and ships ammonia and petroleum—pledged $100 million to Yeshiva University to establish the Legacy Fund, an investment fund that provides seed money for university projects. Yeshiva approached Stanton about setting up a fund to pay for scholarships or endowed professorships. Stanton countered with a more flexible plan to do both, and more: The Legacy Fund will provide startup money for Yeshiva projects to ensure that the university can begin work on them as soon as possible. However, once the university secures support from other donors for those projects, it will repay the Legacy Fund, keeping its value constant over time. Stanton did not disclose details about the pledge or the schedule of payments, though the university said Stanton did give it an additional gift of $25,000. Stanton’s commitment to Yeshiva’s long-term health parallels his family’s longtime dedication to the university. Stanton previously pledged $10 million to the institution and has served on its board of directors for 30 years. In addition, Yeshiva’s undergraduate library is named for his mother, Hedi Steinberg.

Lawrence J. Ellison

Lawrence J. Ellison—$100 million to the Ellison Medical Foundation. Ellison, 63 and the founder of the Oracle Corporation, a computer software company in Redwood Shores, Calif., pledged $100 million—$5 million of which has been paid—to the Ellison Medical Foundation in Bethesda, Md. The remainder will be paid out over the next five years. Ellison is giving the money to the foundation as part of the settlement of an insider-trading lawsuit in which Oracle shareholders accused Ellison of illegally making $900 million from the sale of shares of company stock shortly before the value of the stock plummeted in 2001. The lawsuit was settled in the fall of 2005, after Ellison argued in court that he did nothing illegal with the shares of Oracle stock. He agreed to pay the shareholders’ legal fees and make a $100 million gift to a charity of his choice as a requirement of the settlement. He did not earmark the money for any specific purpose, but the foundation, which Ellison created in 1997, supports biomedical research on aging and research areas that might not be supported by other sources. In June, Ellison reneged on a $115 million pledge he had made in 2005 to Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., to study global health. He said at the time that he would give another large gift elsewhere soon, but he has not made any other announcements of new gifts.

Mortimer B. Zuckerman

Mortimer B. Zuckerman—$100 million to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Zuckerman, chairman of U.S. News & World Report in Washington, publisher of the New York Daily News, and founder of Boston Properties, a real-estate investment trust, pledged $100 million to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York to help construct a cancer-research building that will almost double the size of the hospital’s research facilities. The planned building, to be named for Zuckerman, will provide laboratories for researchers in immunology, oncology, molecular chemistry, and computational biology, among other disciplines. The new center will also house programs focused on improving care for cancer patients. Neither Zuckerman, who serves on Sloan-Kettering’s board, nor the hospital disclosed further details about the gift or its payment schedule.

Peter B. Lewis—$99 million toPrinceton University, the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, and Fountain House. Lewis, 73, chairman of the Progressive Corporation, an insurance company in Mayfield Village, Ohio, pledged $80 million—of which $12 million has been paid—to Princeton University in New Jersey for creative and performing-arts programs. He also paid $3.5 million to the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation in New York. In addition, he pledged $3 million—of which $600,000 has been paid—to Fountain House, a New York organization that helps people who are recovering from mental illness to learn to function independently. The money, to be paid over the next two years, will be used to build two new facilities. Lewis also awarded a total of $12.5 million to 50 nonprofit groups that support arts, human rights, and social-service causes.

Jon L. Stryker—$73.2 million to the Arcus Foundation. Stryker, 48 and heir to the Stryker Corporation, gave $68.6 million to the Arcus Foundation, which maintains offices in Kalamazoo, Mich., and New York. Stryker is a medical-products company founded by Jon’s grandfather Homer, a surgeon who invented the mobile hospital bed. The money will be used to support the foundation’s two grant-making priorities: fighting prejudice and discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people, and supporting programs dedicated to preserving the survival and habitat of great apes. Stryker left his job as an architect to concentrate all his energy on philanthropy and established the Arcus Foundation in 2000. He currently serves as president of the organization. In addition, Stryker gave a total of $4.6 million to 15 nonprofit organizations including the Synergos Institute, a New York group that works to find solutions to poverty in Africa, Asia, and Latin America; the Museum of Modern Art in New York; Challenge Day, a youth group in Concord, Calif.; and other arts, education, and human-service groups.

Theodore (Ted) and Vada Stanley—$73.1 million to the Stanley Medical Research Institute. Ted Stanley, 75, founder of MBI, a Norwalk, Conn., company that develops and markets collectible items, and his wife, Vada, 73, pledged $72 million to the Stanley Medical Research Institute in Chevy Chase, Md. The money will be used to support research on the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. The Stanleys helped establish the foundation in 1989.

T. Denny Sanford—$70.5 million to the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority. Sanford, the CEO of United National Corporation, First Premier Bank, and Premier Bankcard, in Sioux Falls, S.D., pledged $70 million to the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority in Lead. The money will be used to renovate Homestake Gold Mine in Lead for use as a science and education center. Sanford made the pledge to persuade the National Science Foundation to choose Homestake as the site for the foundation’s deep underground science and engineering laboratory. If the foundation chooses Homestake, Sanford will provide the money over four years. The largest portion of the pledge—$35 million—will pay for construction of two underground laboratories, while $20 million will go toward a center for children’s science education. The remaining $15 milion will be used to renovate and upgrade Homestake’s electrical system and the equipment used in mine shafts. If the foundation does not choose Homestake, Sanford will rescind his pledge. The foundation did not reply to requests to comment on whether the Homestake mine would be chosen, but an official from the office of South Dakota’s governor, Mike Rounds, said the National Science Foundation has not yet made a decision. Sanford also pledged $250,000 to First Tee of St. Paul Highland Junior Golf Program and donated $100,000 to St. Paul Central High School for a gym. He also gave $60,000 to the WPO Foundation in Alexandria, Va.; $50,000 to Sioux Empire United Way in Sioux Falls, S.D.; $10,000 to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation in Phoenix; and the remainder to other nonprofit groups in Arizona and Minnesota. Sanford has already secured a place on the 2007 list of big donors: This month he announced a $400 million pledge to Sioux Valley Hospital and Health Systems in South Dakota, which renamed itself Sanford Health in his honor.

Irwin M. and Joan K. Jacobs—$62 million to American Technion Society, Cornell University, KPBS-FM radio, and San Diego Natural History Museum. Irwin Jacobs, 73, founder of Qualcomm, a wireless-communications company in San Diego, and his wife, Joan, 74, pledged $30 million to the American Technion Society in New York to establish graduate fellowships at the Jacobs Graduate School at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. The Jacobs fellowships focus on innovative science and technology ventures. The Jacobses have paid $500,000 so far. The couple also pledged $30 million to Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., to establish an annual $750,000 fellowship program each for graduate and undergraduate engineering students. Both Jacobs and his wife earned bachelor’s degrees from Cornell: he in electrical engineering in 1956, she from the College of Human Ecology in 1954. The Jacobses made an additional pledge of $1 million over five years to KPBS-FM, an NPR station at San Diego State University. The money, $200,000 of which has been paid, will establish a fund to train radio journalists on using the Internet and multimedia technology to enhance their journalism and to strengthen small media outlets that cover local issues. The Jacobses also pledged $1 million to the San Diego Natural History Museum to help bring the Dead Sea Scrolls to San Diego for a six-month exhibition this June.

Ronald O. Perelman—$60.8 million to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Carnegie Hall, and the World Trade Center Site Memorial. Perelman, 64 and chairman of MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings, a holding company in New York, as well as the chairman of Revlon, pledged $25 million to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, where he is a board member. He also pledged $20 million to Carnegie Hall in New York, where he serves on the board of trustees, to support education and artistic programs. The organization named the stage in the Isaac Stern Auditorium for Perelman, established the Ronald O. Perelman Family Music Endowment for elementary and secondary music-education students, and started the Perelman American Roots program, an effort to bring more music education to New York’s public schools. Perelman also pledged $5 million to support the World Trade Center Site Memorial in New York. He also gave $1 million to the Revlon Run/Walk. In addition, he gave a total of $9.8 million to more than 200 charities. Those gifts support medical research, women’s health, the arts, education, and Jewish causes.

Edward P. Bass—$60 million to Yale University. Bass, 61, chairman of Fine Line, an investment and venture-capital management firm in Fort Worth, pledged $60 million to Yale University to help construct and renovate science facilities on campus. He and the university declined to offer further details about the commitment. A 1968 graduate of Yale who earned a bachelor’s degree in administrative science, Bass has now donated or pledged more than $100 million to the institution. (To date, Bass’ family, including his brother and father, have committed more than twice that amount to Yale.) Bass, who also studied at Yale’s graduate School of Architecture for three years, has served on boards for museums and environmental programs at the university.

John Morgridge

John P. and Tashia F. Morgridge—$60 million to the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery and Lesley University. John Morgridge, 73, chairman emeritus of Cisco Systems, an Internet technology company in San Jose, Calif., and Tashia Morgridge, 74, retired director of special-education at the Meadowbrook School, a private elementary and middle school in Weston, Mass., pledged $50 million to the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery in Madison. The money will help pay for construction of a building that will be home to two science centers. One of the centers will be supported by government grants and will be owned and operated by the University of Wisconsin at Madison. The other, to be named the Morgridge Institute for Research, will operate primarily on private support. The donors hope that this structure will allow scientists to make faster breakthroughs because they will not have to comply with restrictions on the use of government money for research on stem cells, for example. The Morgridges both graduated in 1955 from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, near where the institutes will be located. The couple also donated $10 million worth of Cisco Systems stock to Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass., for its School of Education, where Tashia Morgridge earned a master’s degree in 1975. The Morgridges said the university could use the money for any purpose, as long as it benefits the education school.

Ernest and Evelyn Rady—$60 million to Children’s Hospital and Health Center in San Diego.ErnestRady, 69 and founder of Westcorp, an automobile-finance company sold to Wachovia in 2005 for $3.42 billion, and founder of American Assets, chairman of the Insurance Company of the West, and chairman of the Wachovia Corporation’s Dealer Finance Division and its California banking business in San Diego, and Evelyn Rady, a retired social worker, pledged $60 million to Children’s Hospital and Health Center in San Diego for new facilities and programs. As a result of the gift, the hospital system was renamed Rady Children’s Hospital and Health Center. Most of the pledge is expected to be paid within five years and will pay for a new building that is scheduled to open in 2010. The building will have a cancer-care center, conference space, a neonatal intensive-care center, a surgical center, and 84 patient beds. Ernest Rady was chairman of the hospital’s board from 1990 to 1993.

George Soros—$60 million to the Millennium Promise Alliance and the Open Society Institute. Soros, 76, chairman of Soros Fund Management, a hedge-fund management firm in New York, and of the Open Society Institute, a network of foundations, pledged $50 million—of which $10 million has been paid—to the Millennium Promise Alliance, in New York, for the organization’s Millennium Village Project. The village project wants to fight poverty in 33 villages in sub-Saharan Africa by working to alleviate hunger, push for women’s rights, and improve education and health care. The remainder of money will be paid out in $10 million increments annually for the next four years. In addition, Soros has pledged $10 million to the Open Society Institute, in New York. He specified that he wants the money to be used to help cities develop programs to treat drug addicts. The institution’s Baltimore offshoot is trying to spread the program nationally, and officials there said Soros wants the drug-abuse treatment systems to be so successful that other cities will want to emulate the programs. It is likely that Soros gave the Open Society Institute far more last year. He provides money each year to pay for the foundation, which awarded $74.3 million in grants and held $858.9 million in assets in the fiscal year ending in December 2005, the most recent year for which data are available.

H. F. (Gerry) and Marguerite B. Lenfest—$55.7 million to Columbia University, the Fund for Eakins’ Masterpiece, the Gesu School, the Franklin Institute, and Saint Joseph’s University. Gerry Lenfest, 76 and the founder of Lenfest Communications in Wilmington, Del., which he sold to Comcast in 2000, and his wife, Marguerite, 73, pledged $48 millon to Columbia University in New York. The money will be used to match donations others make—up to $37.5 million to endow professorships in the graduate School of Arts and Sciences and up to $10.5 million at Columbia Law School. Gerry Lenfest, who graduated from the law school in 1958, serves on the university’s board of trustees. The Lenfests also donated $3 million to the Fund for Eakins’ Masterpiece, a Philadelphia nonprofit set up by the Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and other groups to raise $68 million needed to keep The Gross Clinic, an iconic 1875 painting by Thomas Eakins, in the city of Philadelphia. Thomas Jefferson University, the Philadelphia medical school that owned the painting, sold it in November to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, and to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark. The university gave the Philadelphia groups 45 days after the sale was announced to raise the money needed to keep the painting in the city. The fund-raising effort was successful, and the painting will split its exhibition time between the Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In addition, the couple gave $2.2 million to the Gesu School and $1 million to Saint Joseph’s University, both in Philadelphia. The Lenfests also pledged $1 million to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, and $500,000 to the Opera Company of Philadelphia.

David H. Koch—$55 million to theAmerican Museum of Natural History, the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Koch, 66, vice president of Koch Industries, an investment company in Wichita, Kan., pledged $20 million to the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The money will be used for research and science programs focused on evolution and paleontology. Mr. Koch serves on the museum’s board of directors. He also pledged $20 million—of which $2 million has been paid—to the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore for construction costs for a new cancer-research building; and $15 million—of which $5 million has been paid—to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York to support research. Koch is a board member at both cancer centers.

DeVos Family—$50 million toSpectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Mich. The four children, along with their spouses, of Richard and Helen DeVos—Dick and Betsy DeVos, Dan and Pamella DeVos, Cheri and Robert VanderWeide, Doug and Maria DeVos—gave $12.5 million each for a new building at DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Mich, which is run by Spectrum Health, a nonprofit health-care system. Richard DeVos, co-founder of the Amway Corporation, and Helen helped create the hospital. The $190 million building will be completed in 2010. The hospital was renamed Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital as a result of the gift. Spectrum Health did not disclose the amount of the DeVoses’ original gift. All four children and their families live in Grand Rapids. Dick DeVos is president of Windquest Group, an investment and management company, where his wife, Betsy, serves as chairwoman. Dan DeVos is president of DP Fox Ventures, an investment and management group, and his wife, Pamella, designs clothes for her Pamella Roland line of clothing. Cheri VanderWeide is president of the Robert and Cheri VanderWeide Foundation, and her husband, Robert, is president of VW Ventures, an investment and management company. Doug DeVos is co-president of Alticor, the parent company of Amway, and his wife, Maria, is vice president of the Douglas and Maria DeVos Foundation.

Melvin and Bren Simon—$50 million to the Indiana University Cancer Center. Melvin Simon, 80, co-founder of the Simon Property Group, a commercial real-estate company in Indianapolis, and Bren Simon, 64, president of MBS Associates, a property-management company in Carmel, Ind., pledged $50 million to the Indiana University Cancer Center. Half of the money will create a research endowment to attract top cancer researchers to the university’s School of Medicine and support its cancer-research programs. The remaining half will help pay for the expansion of the cancer center’s patient-care facility. The university did not disclose details of how the gift will be paid over time. The university named its cancer center the Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center to honor the donors. The research endowment was named for their son, Joshua Max Simon, who died of cardiac arrest in 1999 at age 25. Melvin Simon’s company owns regional malls, including the Premium Outlet Centers, and he is a co-owner—with his brother, Herbert—of the Indiana Pacers. The couple’s previous gifts to the university, which total more than $10 million, supported the Bess Meshulam Simon Music Library and Recital Center, the Helene G. Simon Hillel Center, and Simon Hall, a multidisciplinary science building.

John and Jacque Weberg—$50 million toOpportunity International. John Weberg, 78, and his wife, Jacque, 75, retired owners of retail furniture stores, pledged $50 million—of which $3 million has been paid—to Opportunity International, in Oak Brook, Ill. The money, which will be paid out over 10 years, will be used for projects in the Philippines and in Africa that give small loans to entrepreneurs. Officials at the organization said the Webergs have said they intend to focus most of their support on such programs in African countries because of what they see as a vicious cycle of poverty, exacerbated by the AIDS epidemic. A program in Malawi will use the money to establish a bank that will provide small-business loans to poor people, and to purchase special fingerprint-recognition equipment that will make it easier for the borrowers to access their bank accounts. In a country where poor people do not have an address or the sort of documentation needed to open bank accounts, the fingerprinting system enables a borrower to use his or her fingerprint as a form of identification and makes it possible to get a loan, open a bank account, and get insurance. The couple have been donors to Opportunity International for about 20 years and have helped pay for microfinance projects in Honduras and India.

Gilbert D. and Jaylee M. Mead—$37.2 million to Arena Stage and the Signature Theatre. Gilbert Mead, 76, a retired research scientist from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Md., and heir to the Consolidated Papers fortune, and Jaylee Mead, 77 and retired as associate chief of the Space Data and Computing Division at Goddard, pledged $35 million—of which $31 million in has been paid—to Arena Stage, in Washington. Most of the money—$30 million—will be used to upgrade and refurbish the theater company’s performance spaces, offices, and shops, and to build a theater campus with classrooms and rehearsal space. The remaining $5 million will be used to match any gift from an Arena trustee. The Meads serve on Arena’s Board of Trustees and gave the theater an additional $175,000 last year to sponsor a production of Cabaret. The couple also pledged $1 million—of which $700,000 has been paid—to Signature Theatre in Arlington, Va. The Meads gave the money for the institution’s capital campaign, which paid for the construction of a new theater. The Meads gave Signature an additional $75,000 to sponsor a production of Into the Woods as the show that was the first to be produced in the new facility. In addition, the Meads gave $949,922 to the Community Foundation of South Wood County, in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., where Gilberg Mead was born and raised, and where his grandfather co-founded Consolidated Papers. The couple earmarked $600,000 of the gift for the Wisconsin Rapids Community Theater Fund to help build a new theater. The remaining $349,922, said the Meads, would go to the Barker Mead Fund, which Mr. Mead and his cousin, Ruth Barker, established in 2004 to support civic programs in Wisconsin Rapids.

Marvin J. and Judith A. Herb Family—$35.3 million to theRush University Medical Center and the University of Toledo College of Education. Marvin Herb, 68, chairman of Herbco, a private investment company in Barrington, Ill., and a former owner of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company in Chicago; his wife, Judith, 66; and their sons, Jon and Tom, and Tom’s wife, Wendy, pledged $20 million to Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Most of the money will be used for new construction projects, and some will endow scholarships for medical students studying primary-care medicine at Rush Medical College, but university officials would not say exactly how much money would be directed toward each of those efforts. The three younger Herbs together pledged to contribute $5 million toward their parents’ pledge. The elder couple have been patients at the medical center. The family also pledged $15 million, of which $264,600 has been paid, to the University of Toledo College of Education. Most of the money—$8 million—will be used for scholarships, while $4.25 million will support research programs within the college. The remaining $2.75 million will be used for faculty-development programs. Marvin and Judith Herb also gave $250,000 to the university for its annual fund. Judith Herb earned a bachelor’s degree in 1961 and a master’s degree in 1964 at the university’s College of Education, and Marvin Herb earned a master’s in business administration at its College of Business in 1964. Tom Herb, chief executive of Barrington Venture Holding Company, an Illinois company that manages real estate, and his wife, Wendy, gave $500,000 to the college, as did Jon Herb, director of residential marketing at Aercon AAC, a Haines City, Fla., company that makes concrete for building commercial and residential structures.

Jeannik Méquet Littlefield—$35 million to the San Francisco Opera. Littlefield is the widow of Edmund Wattis Littlefield, a former chief executive officer of the Utah Construction Company, which merged with General Electric in 1976. Littlefield pledged $35 million to the San Francisco Opera, of which $2 million per year will go toward general operating costs, and $5 million per year will augment the endowment. The donation, a mix of stocks and cash, will be paid over five years. The endowment stands at $90 million, but the opera is raising money to substantially increase it. Littlefield’s passion for opera stretches back to her childhood in Paris, where she begged her parents to take her to her first show, Carmen. According to the opera company, her husband did not share her love of the art until, through a gift from the Littlefields, the company installed supertitles—words projected on a screen that translate foreign-language operas into English—in its theater in 1984. A member of the opera’s board of directors for 15 years, Littlefield has previously contributed millions of dollars to the company. The gift appears to be the largest ever given to an opera company in the United States.

Burt and Deedee McMurtry—$32 million to Rice University. Burt McMurtry, 71, founder of Technology Venture Investors and Institutional Venture Associates, in Menlo Park, Calif., and his wife, Deedee, 72, pledged $32 million to Rice University, $4.2 million of which will support Rice’s residential college system and $1 million of which will be used to construct facilities for a new residential college. The remainder is unrestricted. Both McMurtrys grew up in Houston and graduated from Rice—she with a bachelor of arts in English in 1956, he with both a bachelor of arts in 1956 and a bachelor of science in electrical engineering in 1957. As a Rice student in 1955, Burt McMurtry helped plan the university’s undergraduate residential-college system, in which students live in one of nine smaller university units, each with its own dormitory and dining hall. The McMurtry gift will help establish one of two new residential colleges at Rice, which plans to expand its student population by 30 percent. The new college will be named for the couple. The $4.2 million portion of the donation will be paid by 2010. Rice will receive the remainder as a bequest.

Sheldon G. and Miriam Adelson—$30 million to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority and Birthright Israel. Sheldon Adelson, 73, chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, and his wife, Miriam, 61, a physician who specializes in drug abuse and addiction treatment, pledged $25 million to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem. The institution is a complex of archives, exhibits, monuments, museums, and sculptures dedicated to commemorating and documenting the history of Jewish people during the Holocaust. The money will be used for educational programs internationally and in Israel. The Adelsons established a foundation in January and have said the foundation will give out $200 million a year to Jewish causes. Forbes magazine named Adelson the third-richest man in the country last year. The couple also pledged approximately $5 million to Birthright Israel, a New York organization that gives young Jewish American adults free 10-day trips to Israel if they have never visited the country. The trips cost approximately $2,400 per person, and the Adelsons’ donation will help pay for trips for people whom the organization could not previously afford to send.

Monte and Usha Ahuja—$30 million to University Hospitals in Cleveland. Monte Ahuja, 60, founder of Transtar Industries, a multinational distributor of automobile parts in Cleveland, and his wife, Usha, also 60, pledged $30 million to University Hospitals in Cleveland in support of its $1.2 billion capital campaign. In return for the gift, which is unrestricted, the hospital system will name a new 200-bed facility after the couple. A native of India, Monte Ahuja transformed a small car-parts distribution center in Ohio into Transtar, an international firm that specializes in transmission systems for repair jobs. Usha Ahuja, a former professor of mathematics at Cleveland State University, has served as her husband’s business partner since the beginning. Both Ahujas have served on boards at University Hospitals. The hospital system declined to give further details about the gift.

William E. Macaulay—$30 million to City University of New York. Macaulay, chief executive of the First Reserve Corporation, a private-equity firm in Greenwich, Conn., pledged $30 million to the City University of New York to buy the Steinhardt Building, a five-story Gothic revival-style townhouse in New York’s Upper West Side neighborhood that will house the Honors College, and for the endowment. Macaulay graduated from the university in 1966.

Jay A. Precourt—$30 million to Stanford University. Precourt, chairman of Hermes Consolidated in Denver, a transporter and processor of crude oil and related products, pledged $30 million to Stanford University to establish an institute for energy efficiency, endow faculty positions in energy sciences, and help construct a building for the university’s energy and environment program. No details were available about the donor’s schedule for paying the pledge. The institute will focus on improving the efficiency of electricity distribution, building heating and cooling, and transportation. In doing so, it will work closely with existing departments at Stanford, the university said. Precourt earned both a bachelor’s degree, in 1959, and a master’s degree, in 1960, in petroleum engineering from Stanford. His donation was the second of two $30 million gifts to Stanford in 2006 to support environmental studies (see Ward W. and Priscilla B. Woods).

Ward W. and Priscilla Woods—$30 million to Stanford University. Ward Woods, former president of Bessemer Securities, a venture-capital firm in New York, and his wife, Priscilla, pledged $30 million to Stanford University for an environmental institute. The institute, to be renamed in honor of the couple, supports research on science policy and economic sustainability. The university declined to give further details on the donation, one of two $30 million gifts in 2006 to promote environmental studies at Stanford (see Jay A. Precourt). Ward Woods, a member of Stanford’s board of trustees, graduated from the university in 1964 with a bachelor’s degree. His contributions to Stanford now top $40 million.