The 2005 Slate 60: Donations

Analysis of the year's biggest philanthropists.
Feb. 20 2006 8:19 AM

The 2005 Slate 60: Donations

The 60 largest American charitable contributions of the year.

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Arthur E. Benning—$22.5 million to the University of Utah School of Medicine. Benning, former president and chairman of the Amalgamated Sugar Company, in Ogden, Utah, died in 1990, at 78. He left $22.5 million to the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City. His wife died in 2004, and his estate was not settled until 2005. His will stipulated that his entire donation should go to an endowment at the medical school. Money from the endowment will support 12 professorships and their research. Mr. Benning had no connection to the university or to the medical school, and had never even visited the campus, but around the time he was planning his estate gifts, he recalled a story a close friend had once told him. The friend's 3-year-old daughter, who suffered from a rare and sometimes fatal disorder called dermatomyositis, was rushed to the medical school's hospital one night and was saved by doctors there. Struck by the memory of the story, Mr. Benning decided not only to include a gift to the medical school in his will, but also to leave the school his entire estate.

Ira. A. and Mary Lou Fulton—$22 million to Brigham Young University and the Huntsman Cancer Foundation. The couple, who also pledged $100 million to the Arizona State University Foundation, donated $20 million in 2005 to Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. The money will create endowments to support three colleges: family, home, and social sciences; health and human performance; and humanities. It will also pay for upgrades to the university's supercomputers, support its art museum, match student and faculty donations, and provide other assistance. The couple also gave $2 million last year toward a $10 million pledge they made to the Huntsman Cancer Foundation in Salt Lake City in 2004.

Lois Bates Acheson—$21 million to the Oregon State University Foundation. Acheson, who died in 2004 at age 89, bequeathed $21 million to the Oregon State University Foundation in Corvallis for the College of Veterinary Medicine. She owned Black Ball Transport, a ferry company in Port Angeles, Wash. The veterinary college did not exist when Ms. Acheson was a student at the university—she graduated with a business degree in 1937. But she loved animals and had endowed a scholarship for students of the college in 1980. When she planned her estate, she earmarked $1.5 million of the gift to endow a dean's position at the veterinary college, and the university plans to use the rest of the bequest to endow the veterinary college.

Geoffrey Beene—$20 million to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the Animal Medical Center. Fashion designer Beene, who died in 2004 at 77, left $10 million to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in New York. While Beene did not specify in his will how he wanted the group to use the money, society officials said they intend to use it for endowment. He left another $10 million to the Animal Medical Center in New York, where veterinarians had treated his two pet dogs. Officials at the medical center said they plan to put the money into the institution's endowment and use a portion of the earnings to purchase new diagnostic equipment and improve facilities.

David Rockefeller—$20 million to cultural institutions, international-relations organizations, environmental groups, plus payments on pledges to the Museum of Modern Art and the Rhode Island School of Design. Rockefeller gave a total of $14 million to several cultural institutions, international-relations organizations, and environmental groups. In addition, he awarded $1 million to the Rhode Island School of Design, in Providence, to restore the museum's galleries that house Asian art. He also made payments of $2.5 million each to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, of which he is chairman emeritus, and to the Rhode Island School of Design, toward pledges.

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