The 2005 Slate 60: Pledges
The 2005 Slate 60: Pledges
Analysis of the year's biggest philanthropists.
Feb. 20 2006 8:19 AM

The 2005 Slate 60: Pledges

The 60 largest American charitable contributions of the year.

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John M. and Mary Jo Boler—$20 million to the Rush University Medical Center. John Boler, chairman of the Boler Company, an Itasca, Ill., company that manufactures truck-suspension systems, and his wife, Mary Jo, pledged $20 million to Rush University Medical Center in Chicago for a new advanced-imaging center to diagnose and help treat patients with heart attacks, cancer, and other illnesses and for an endowment. The couple paid $3.5 million of the pledge in 2005, and the rest will be paid over the next five years. John Boler is a trustee of the medical center, and both he and his wife have been patients at Rush University Medical Center. The new center will be named after them.

J. William and Mary Diederich—$20 million to Marquette University. Diederich, 76, a retired executive vice president of Landmark Communications in Norfolk, Va., and his wife, Mary, 76, pledged $20 million to Marquette University in Milwaukee, for its College of Communications. The Diederichs transferred stock worth $20 million to an irrevocable charitable lead trust and structured the gift so that the college will receive earnings of $1.4 million a year for the next 20 years. Marquette received $583,333—part of the first annual $1.4 million—in 2005. The money will endow building renovations, professorships, scholarships, and research, and it will pay for guest speakers. The gift will also help update the college's audio and visual broadcasting studios. J. William Diederich, who graduated from Marquette's journalism program in 1951, helped start the Weather Channel and retired from Landmark Communications in 1990. Mary Diederich, a retired musician, graduated from the university in 1952.

Lacy and Dorothy Harber—$20 million to Abilene Christian University, Texoma Medical Center Foundation, and the Wilson N. Jones Medical Center Foundation. Lacy Harber, 70, and his wife, Dorothy, 65, who own G&L Tools, an oil-field service company in Abilene, Texas, pledged $10 million to Abilene Christian University to endow 50 full-tuition ministry scholarships in its graduate school of theology. The money, which the university will receive upon the Harbers' death, will also pay stipends to international students and graduate teaching assistants so that they can cover living expenses. The couple pledged additional estate gifts of $5 million each to the Texoma Medical Center Foundation in Denison, Texas, for a new building, and to the Wilson N. Jones Medical Center Foundation in Sherman, Texas, to expand the center's campus.

Roger and Victoria Sant—$20 million to the National Symphony Orchestra and the Smithsonian Institution. Roger Sant, chairman emeritus and co-founder of the AES Corporation, an international electric-power company in Arlington, Va., and Victoria Sant, president of the National Gallery of Art, pledged $10 million to the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington. The money will endow the music director's post. Roger Sant serves on the National Symphony Orchestra's board of trustees. The couple also pledged $10 million to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington to establish the first endowed position in ocean research at the National Museum of Natural History. A portion of the money will also help establish the Center for Marine Science at the museum. Roger Sant serves on the Smithsonian's board of regents and is chairman of its executive committee. 

Robert and Jan Weissman—$20 million to Babson College. Robert Weissman, chairman of Shelburne Investments, a private investment firm in western Massachusetts, and his wife, Jan, pledged $20 million to Babson College in Babson Park, Mass. The gift is unrestricted, but the college plans to use a portion of it for financial aid. Half the pledge was paid in 2005, and the college will receive the remaining $10 million upon the Weissmans' death. Weissman graduated from the college in 1964 and serves on its board of trustees.

Albert Willner—$20 million to the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science. Willner, 87, a retired orthopedic surgeon, pledged $20 million to the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science, in New York. The money, which will be paid over 10 years, will be used to create and endow a leadership center at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel, and will support science and technology research, science education, and a program to develop leaders and donors who can help raise the institute's profile. The new center will be named after Willner and his family.

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