The 2007 Slate 60: Donations
The largest American charitable contributions of the year.
Updated Monday, Feb. 11, 2008, at 7:35 AM
Warren Alpert—a $100 millionbequest to Brown University Medical School, which was subsequently renamed the Warren Alpert Medical School. The gift—the largest in the medical school's history—will go toward a new building, support for biomedical research, endowed professors and scholarships, and faculty recruitment. Alpet's bequest will be administered via his namesake charitable foundation, founded in 1986 to support scientific and medical breakthroughs.
Frank Batten Sr.—$100 million to the University of Virginia, to create the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. Batten was the former chairman and CEO of Landmark Communication Inc., a media company that owns various newspapers and television stations, including the Weather Channel.
Rupert H. Johnson—$100 million to his alma mater, Washington and Lee University. The donation will support student scholarships as well as establish a campus lecture series, a summer leadership program in for seniors at the college, and two professorships. Along with his older brother, Charles, Johnson runs the investment company Franklin Resources.
Phil and Penny Knight—$100 million to the University of Oregon. The gift from Phil Knight, the founder and former CEO of Nike, and his wife, Penny, will establish the Oregon Athletics Legacy Fund to support and promote University of Oregon's sports teams.
Henri and Janice Lazarof—$100 million worth of paintings, donated to the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. Henri Lazarof, a composer, and his wife, Janice, a daughter of the late real estate developer Mark Taper, donated 130 works of art to the museum. The collection includes 20 pieces by Pablo Picasso, 21 watercolors and paintings by Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky, and seven bronzes and one painting by Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti.
Peter H. and Paula Crane Lunder—$100 million to Colby College. The gift was in the form of a collection of American art that the Lunders have accumulated over the years, including pieces by Georgia O'Keefe, Winslow Homer, and Edward Hopper. Peter Lunder is the former president of Dexter Shoe Co.
Robert and Jeannette Powell—$100 million to the University of the Pacific. The estate gift was announced after the death of Robert Powell in November and will be paid after Jeannette Powell's death. It will offset tuition costs for students at the university. Other benefactors include the Sacramento Ballet and Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra. Robert Powell served on the university's board of regents from 1989-93 and was awarded a doctorate from Pacific in 1996. Jeanette Powell has served on the board since 1999.
Richard S. Zeisler—a $100 million bequest of art to various U.S. museums. Zeisler, a private investor and collector of 20th-century European art, bequeathed more than 110 works by masters such as Miró, Magritte, Max Beckmann, and Francis Bacon to 16 institutions including the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art, and three New York City-based institutions: the Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art.
Pierre and Pam Omidyar—$97.8 million to Hope Lab, a medical charity that battles chronic illness in youths, and the Omidyar Network, a group that creates community and social change from business solutions. Omidyar, who founded the auction site eBay in 1995, and his wife, Pam, a medical researcher, founded these two charities. Among the youngest and most generous couples in philanthropy, they have pledged to give away all but 1 percent of their billions to charity over the next 20 years. Among other donations, Omidyar also donated $100 million to Tufts University to launch the Omidyar-Tufts Microfinance Fund.
Edwin A.G. Manton—a $91million bequest to the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass. Manton, who passed away in 2005, was a founder and longtime leader of the insurance giant American International Group. His gift includes some $40 million in artwork and $50 million in cash to support research and educational programs. The art collection comprises paintings, watercolors, oil sketches, and other pieces by J.M.W. Turner, John Constable, and Thomas Gainsborough. Manton was knighted in 1994 in recognition of his philanthropy.
Dan and Jan Duncan—$75 million to various causes, including $50 million to launch the Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children's Hospital. The institute to study and treat pediatric neurological disorders will be completed by 2010. Dan Duncan is chairman and director of Houston-based Enterprise Products, an energy-services company, and wife Jan is a member Texas Children's Board of Trustees. The family has also been extremely active in cancer research and has given millions in support of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, where Duncan, a cancer survivor, was a patient.
Harvey Najim—$75 million to create the Harvey E. Najim Family Foundation and $1.8 million for Haven for Hope, a San Antonio Homeless Shelter. Najim, who is founder, president, and CEO of Sirius Computer Solutions Inc., created his family foundation to aid children's medical research in the greater San Antonio area. He has also served on the boards of Junior Achievement, Respite Care of San Antonio, the American Society of Computer Dealers, and the United Way.
William and Karen Davidson—$75 million to Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America. Davidson is owner of the Detroit Pistons and president and CEO of Guardian Industries, one of the world's largest manufacturers of architectural and automotive glass. The gift will support the new inpatient tower at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.
Jerry Yangand Akiko Yamazaki—$75 million to Stanford University. Yang, who in 1994 co-founded Yahoo and now serves as its CEO, and his wife, Akiko,director of the Wildlife Conservation Network in Los Altos, Calif., met as students at Stanford. The bulk of this gift—$50 million—will enhance environmental studies at Stanford by creating an Environment and Energy Building. Other funds will help pay for a 120,000-square-foot Learning and Knowledge Center for their School of Medicine.
R.C. Durr—a $70 million bequest to R.C. Durr Foundation in Kentucky, which creates grants primarily for social services and education. Durr, who passed away last May, was founder of the R.C. Durr Company, Northern Kentucky's leading construction and highway contractor. Durr supported charities big and small but eschewed public attention. He helped many hospitals, churches, schools, and hunger-related programs anonymously, and only one institution—the R.C. Durr YMCA—publicly bears his name. He was also one of the founders of the Northern Kentucky Industrial Foundation at Florence.
Mart Green and Family—$70 million to Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla. Green's gift came at a crucial moment for the university—its president, Richard L. Robert, was forced to resign in the wake of a financial scandal, and the school recently reported that it was $50 million in debt. The Green family started two retail chains, Hobby Lobby and Mardel Christian Educational and Supply. The gift included $8 million up front and the remaining $62 million upon completion of a 90-day financial review process. Green said he had no connection to the university and decided to donate the funds based on news reports about the beleaguered school.
Dale E. and Sarah Ann Fowler—$60 million to Gordon College, Mass., the largest gift in the school's history. California real-estate developer Dale E. Fowler and his wife, Sarah Ann Fowler, made this gift to the school's unrestricted endowment to be paid upon their deaths. It would triple the school's current endowment. The gift will be spent on increasing scholarship funds for students, among other things. The Fowlers have been longtime devotees of the Christian liberal arts college, donating funds for bleachers and renovations to the administration building.
Lee and Penny Anderson—$60 million to the University of St. Thomas. Lee Anderson is the founder and CEO of APi Group Inc., a family of construction, manufacturing, and fire-protection companies. His $60 million gift to St. Thomas, the largest ever to a Minnesota school, will be used to build a new student center.
Alex Joseph is a Slate intern.
Juliet Lapidos is a former Slate associate editor.
Nina Shen Rastogi is a writer and editor, and is also the vice president for content at Figment.
Jon Rubin is a Slate intern.
Chris Wilson is a Slate contributor.
Photographs of: Leona Helmsley by Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images, Sandy Weill by Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images, Oprah Winfrey by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images, Phil Knight by Henny Ray Abrams/AFP, Lawrence Ellison by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.