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.




Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

How Will You Carry Around Your Huge New iPhone? Apple Pants!

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.


The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Lifetime Didn’t Find the Steubenville Rape Case Dramatic Enough. So They Added a Little Self-Immolation.

No, New York Times, Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman” 

Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 1:39 PM Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman,” New York Times. Neither Are Her Characters.
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
Sept. 19 2014 6:22 PM Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 3:07 PM Everything Is a "Women's Issue"
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 5:03 PM White House Chief Information Officer Will Run U.S. Ebola Response
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.