The largest American charitable contributions of 2009.

The largest American charitable contributions of 2009.

The largest American charitable contributions of 2009.

Analysis of the year's biggest philanthropists.
Feb. 5 2010 4:49 PM

Slate 60: Donor Bios

The largest American charitable contributions of the year.

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53.Arlys Streittmater Conrad—$15.5 million to the University of Illinois Foundation Conrad worked for S & C Electric Co. in Chicago. Most of her wealth is from investments in that company's stock. She also managed her family's farm in Speer, Ill. Conrad, who died in 2007 at 85, left $15.5 million to the University of Illinois Foundation for the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The money will endow the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences, as well as the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Conrad graduated from the university in 1944 and had previously given the institution $1 million to endow scholarships.


54. Steven L. and Carol Aaron—$15 million to the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation. The Aarons own Stevens Transport, a freight company in Dallas. They pledged $15 million to the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation for the couple's Aaron Family Designated Fund. The foundation will receive the money upon the death of the Aarons. No details were available about whether the pledged money is earmarked for any specific cause or purpose, but through their designated fund, the couple has supported a variety of groups, including the Children's Medical Center of Dallas, Congregation Shearith Israel, also in Dallas, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, among other organizations.


55. Robert B. Rust Jr.—$14 million to the Virginia Military Institute Foundation. Rust, who died last April at 96, was a retired civil engineer with Southern Railway, now Norfolk Southern Railway. He bequeathed approximately $14 million to the Virginia Military Institute Foundation in Lexington for scholarships. Rust graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 1934. A scholarship recipient during the Depression, Rust never forgot that he could not have afforded to attend the institution were it not for the donations of earlier philanthropists. When he made his estate plans in 1997, he earmarked the money for that very purpose and wrote in a document finalizing his plan for the bequest that the scholarship recipients "shall be of good character, have superior academic potential, and have need for financial assistance."

56. Jeffrey S. Skoll—$13.7 million to the Skoll Foundation. Skoll was the founding president of eBay. He is also the founder of Participant Media, in Los Angeles, which produces films that focus on prominent social issues. Skoll, 45, gave $13.7 million to the Skoll Foundation in Palo Alto, Calif. He established the grant-maker in 1999. Among its largest grants in 2009 were a $3.6 million donation to the Skoll Center for Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Oxford and a $2.5 million donation to the Middle East Venture Capital Fund, which is operated by the European Investment Bank in Luxembourg, to support information and communications technology companies that have originated in the Palestinian territories.


57. Robert Edward (Ted) Turner—$13.2 million to the Turner Foundation. Turner, 71, is chairman of Turner Enterprises, a private holding company in Atlanta. He founded Turner Broadcasting System and CNN and is a former vice chairman of AOL Time Warner. He gave $12.1 million in cash to the Turner Foundation in Atlanta to support the grant-maker's efforts to develop sustainable energy systems, improve water and air quality, protect wildlife habitats, and curb population growth. Turner established the foundation in 1990. In addition, Turner gave $200,000 apiece to Brown University; the Citadel Foundation, the fund-raising arm of the military college in Charleston, S.C.; and the McCallie School, a college-preparatory school for boys in Chattanooga, Tenn. He attended Brown but did not graduate and is a 1956 graduate of McCallie. He also gave a total of $500,000 to a variety of other nonprofit groups throughout the country.


58. Conrad T. Prebys—$11.6 million to the Burnham Institute for Medical Research. Prebys founded Progress Construction and Management Company, a real estate-development business in San Diego. He pledged $10 million to the Burnham Institute for Medical Research in La Jolla, Calif., to support a drug-discovery center that will be named for him. He paid $1 million toward the pledge last year. He also gave the institute a separate donation of $50,000 to support work by its young scientists. In addition, he pledged $1.5 million to the San Diego Hospice and Institute for Palliative Medicine to establish a special fund to provide hospice services to patients who could not otherwise afford such care. Prebys has paid $500,000 toward the pledge and plans to pay the rest over the next two years.

59. Michael H. Dunn—$10.5 million to theMuseum of Modern Art. Dunn was a retired stockbroker and a rare-books dealer in Derby, Vt. Dunn, who died in 2007 at 65, left approximately $10.5 million to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He placed no restrictions on how the money should be used, and museum officials have decided to direct the money toward the endowment and for acquisitions of art works. Dunn had been a member of the museum's board of directors for 10 years at the time of his death. Museum officials said the bequest came as a complete surprise.

59. John O. and Janet F. Haas—$10.5 million to the University of Pennsylvania. John Haas is an heir to the Rohm & Haas Co. fortune, and his wife is a physician. The Haases pledged a total of $10.5 million to the University of Pennsylvania for two professorships, to support the university's arboretum, and for Alzheimer's drug research. Of the total, $3 million will endow a professorship at the Penn Medicine at Radnor Clinic; $3 million will support the Penn Innovative Pilot Program for Alzheimer's Drug Discovery; $2.5 million will endow the director of botany post at the university's Morris Arboretum; and $2 million will endow a professorship in bioethics. Details about a payment schedule were unavailable. Dr. Haas serves as chairwoman of the advisory board for the Penn Center for Bioethics.