Analysis of the year's biggest philanthropists.
Jan. 26 1997 3:30 AM

The Top 10 Anonymous Gifts of 1996 



1. DAVID A. DUFFIELD--$20 million to his alma mater, CORNELL UNIVERSITY (N.Y.), toward the construction of laboratories and classrooms to train young scientists and engineers. The gift is one of the largest received by Cornell. Duffield is president, CEO, and chairman of Peoplesoft Inc., a computer-software-development company based in Pleasanton, Calif. He also gave $2 million to Cornell in 1995.


2. LEWIS CULLMAN--$10 million commitment to YALE UNIVERSITY (Conn.) from this alumnus and CEO of Cullman Ventures to renovate Branford College at the university.

3. WILLIAM H. GATES III--$10 million as part of a joint challenge gift to Seattle's LAKESIDE SCHOOL, the donor's alma mater, for education and construction.

3. PAUL ALLEN--$10 million as part of the same challenge gift.

3. THEMcCAW FAMILY--Entrepreneur CRAIG McCAW's family will contribute the remaining $10 million toward the $30 million total.

6. DAVID W. WALLACE--$9 million commitment to YALE UNIVERSITY from this alumnus and chairman of Lone Star Industries, also to renovate Branford college at the university.

7. GARY WILSON and BARBERA THORNHILL--$5 million to DUKE UNIVERSITY (N.C.) from the co-chairman of Northwest Airlines Inc. and his wife to help build a new recreational fitness facility on campus. The gift is the largest individual donation to athletics in Duke's history. The money pledged will be used for a 99,000 square-foot facility on Duke's West Campus. Wilson is a 1962 Duke graduate who played on the school's 1961 Cotton Bowl championship football squad and is currently a member of the university's board of trustees.

8. STEVE SMITH--$2.5 million to MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY, where he played basketball from 1987 to 1991. Smith, a guard with the Atlanta Hawks, made the donation in honor of his mother, who died of cancer during his rookie season in the National Basketball Association. The bulk of the money, along with contributions from about 40 other donors, will be used to build the $6 million Clara Bell Smith Student-Athlete Academic Center. Smith also endowed a yearly academic scholarship--expected to be worth about $10,000 a year--for two students from Detroit's Pershing High School, Smith's high-school alma mater.

9. RICHARD and LYNETTE MERILLAT FAMILY--a real-estate gift of an undisclosed amount to MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY. The gift includes: 80 acres, two premier stallions, 43 quarterhorses, two houses--each 1,500 square-feet in size, a 72-by-200 horse barn, a 72-by-100 breeding barn, a 80-by-200 arena, and storage buildings. This is the largest gift-in-kind received by the university and by the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The farm will be named the Michigan State University Merillat Equine Center. Orville Merillat, Richard Merillat's father, was the founder of Merillat Kitchens, which the family sold to MASCO several years ago.




The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers


Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.


The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 22 2014 2:05 PM Paul Farmer Says Up to Ninety Percent of Those Infected Should Survive Ebola. Is He Right?
Business Insider
Oct. 22 2014 2:27 PM Facebook Made $595 Million in the U.K. Last Year. It Paid $0 in Taxes
The Eye
Oct. 22 2014 1:01 PM The Surprisingly Xenophobic Origins of Wonder Bread
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 10:00 AM On the Internet, Men Are Called Names. Women Are Stalked and Sexually Harassed.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
Brow Beat
Oct. 22 2014 10:39 PM Avengers: Age of Ultron Looks Like a Fun, Sprawling, and Extremely Satisfying Sequel
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 2:59 PM Netizen Report: Twitter Users Under Fire in Mexico, Venezuela, Turkey
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.