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.