The 2007 Slate 60: Donations
The largest American charitable contributions of the year.
Updated Monday, Feb. 11, 2008, at 7:35 AM
Jane Anne Nohl—a $60 million bequest to University of Southern California/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. Nohl and her husband, Louis, made their fortunes in investments and California real estate. Louis passed away in 1987, and Nohl followed last July at age 89. Their gift was inspired by USC's lifesaving treatments of their friend Larry Kelly. The $60 million bequest will allow the hematology division to almost double its staff, create a fellowship and a research fund, and advance the center's studies in blood disorders.
Peter Lewis—$54.5 million to various causes. Lewis, the chairman of Progressive Insurance and the CEO of the company for 35 years, is a frequent and prolific donor. The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation and Princeton University are among his favorite beneficiaries. This is his 10th appearance on the Slate 60.
Richard and Melanie Lundquist—$54 million to the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools and California Science Center. Lundquist is the president of Continental Development Corporation, a real-estate company that owns millions of square feet in California commercial space. His wife, Melanie, has been involved in children's educational and social causes and serves on the California Science Center Foundation's Board of Trustees. The 10-year, $50 million commitment to the Partnership for L.A. Schools aims to improve the city's public schools, but it is a conditional gift—the schools must show progress and meet benchmarks in test scores, graduation rates, and other categories. The two also gave $10 million to establish the Lundquist Cardiovascular Institute at Torrance Memorial Medical Center in Torrance, Calif.
Melvin and Bren Simon—$52.4 million to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis and the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Melvin Simon is co-chairman of Simon Property Group, the nation's largest owner of shopping malls. His wife, Bren, is a political activist and consultant. The family is also a co-owner of the Indiana Pacers basketball team. In 2007 the couple and their extended family gave $40 million to Riley Hospital for the building of a new 10-story tower, to be completed in 2013. The Simons also gave $10 million to the IMA to endow the salary of the museum's top executive and free up money for educational programs. Additionally, they gave $2.4 million to the St. Vincent Hospital Foundation Inc. in Indianapolis to help complete a new outpatient care center for the under- and uninsured.
H.F. (Gerry) and Marguerite Lenfest—$52.1 million to various causes, including Washington and Lee University and Wilson College. Lenfest is former president and CEO of the Lenfest Group, a cable and communication company he started in West Conshohocken, Pa. His wife, Marguerite, worked at the company with him. The Lenfests gave $33 million to Washington and Lee University, Lenfest's almer mater, to increase and maintain faculty salaries. The amount represents the university's largest gift ever and is only the latest of his long giving history there—the performing arts center bears his name. The Lenfests gave $10 million to Wilson College to support a new complex for the sciences. Marguerite Lenfest serves on the school's board of trustees.
John A. Swanson—$51.3 million to the University of Pittsburgh and Washington & Jefferson College. Swanson, who received his Ph.D. in engineering from Pittsburgh in 1966, is the founder of ANSYS Inc., a software company. Pittsburgh has renamed its engineering school after Swanson in honor of his $41.3 million gift. Swanson also gave $10 million to Washington & Jefferson College.
Raymond and Kathryn Eckstein—$51 million to Marquette University. The Ecksteins, both graduates of Marquette University in Wisconsin, made their fortune in the shipping industry along the Mississippi River. Their gift to Marquette's law school is thought to be the largest to any Wisconsin school.
Oprah Winfrey—$50.2 million to two of her foundations. Winfrey, the pioneering talk-show icon, donated a bit more than $50 million to the Oprah Winfrey foundation and Oprah's Angel Network. This is her fifth appearance on the Slate 60.
Paul Foster—$50 million to Texas Tech University. Foster, the CEO and founder of Western Refining in El Paso, gave $50 million in Western Refining stock to the Texas Tech University medical school. Foster also has given to Baylor University, the Red Cross, United Way, and the Salvation Army.
Eugene B. Adkins—a $50 million bequest in artwork to two museums. Adkins, who died in February 2006, was a dedicated collector of Southwestern and American Indian art. His collection was donated to the Philbrook Museum in Tulsa, Okla., and Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma.
James T. Emerson—$50 million to the J.T.-Minnie Maude Charitable Trust. Emerson, an investor who died in 2005, is the sole benefactor of the J.T.-Minnie Maude Charitable Trust, which provides educational scholarships to students in Southern Virginia.
Dennis and Joan Gillings—$50 million to the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Gillings is the chairman and CEO of the Quintiles Transnational Corp., a company that specializes in pharmaceuticals and health care.
Martin and Constance Silver—$50 million to New York University School of Social Work. The fund will be used to provide scholarships to low-income students and to enhance the study of poverty. Martin Silver's fortune was earned during his time in the plasma-collection industry.
Joseph Zilber—$45.5 million to various causes. Zilber, the owner of Zilber Ltd., a real-estate development company, donated $30 million to the Marquette University law school for a new building. He gave $10 million to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to establish a graduate school for public health.
Lawrence Ellison— $39 million to the Ellison Medical Foundation to support research programs. Ellison is the CEO of Oracle, a software and database company that he co-founded in 1977. This is his seventh appearance on the Slate 60.
Lillian Garner—a $38 million bequest to the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation. The money will be used to continue the foundation's work of providing for and comforting aging family members. Garner, who passed away in July, accumulated her wealth from real-estate investment in Wisconsin.
Wade F.B. Thompson—$36 million to various causes. The bulk of Thompson's charitable donations this year—$35 million—will be used to restore the Park Avenue Armory, a historic building in the heart of New York City that will become a fine-arts venue. Thompson is the CEO and president of Thor Industries Inc., a manufacturer of recreational vehicles.
Christopher "Kit" Goldsbury—$35 million to the Culinary Institute of America. Goldsbury, former owner of the Pace Salsa Company, directed his gift to fund scholarships to the school as well as establish a center dedicated to Latin American cuisine.
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.