Slate 60: The largest American charitable contributions of the year.

Analysis of the year's biggest philanthropists.
Feb. 6 2011 7:18 PM

Slate 60: Donor Bios

The largest American charitable contributions of the year.

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31. Paul G. Allen—$32.3 million to Washington State University. Allen, 58, founded Vulcan, an investment company in Seattle, and helped establish Microsoft, in Redmond, Wash. He pledged $26 million to Washington State University, in Pullman, for a variety of programs and building projects in its School for Global Animal Health, which is focused on the study of infections that are transmitted from animals to humans. The university plans to use some of the money to hire more research scientists for the global animal-health school over the next 10 years and establish research programs in Africa, with a goal of improving the ability of African countries to respond to animal-borne diseases. He paid $6.7 million toward the pledge in 2010. Allen also gave a total of $6.3 million to several nonprofit groups, including the Experience Music Project, a museum he established in 2000 that is dedicated to rock music; the Science Fiction Museum, which he started in 2003; and the Allen Institute for Brain Science, all of which are in Seattle, as well as the Flying Heritage Collection, an Everett, Wash., museum that primarily displays World War II-era combat aircraft.

—Maria Di Mento

32. Norton Herrick—$32 million to the University of Miami School of Communications. Herrick is chairman of the Herrick Co., a real-estate investment firm, and of Herrick Entertainment, a film and theatrical production company, both in Boca Raton, Fla. He gave a collection of about 3,000 rare films, animated features, and classic early television shows valued at about $32 million to the University of Miami School of Communications, in Coral Gables, Fla. The value of the gift includes an undisclosed cash amount, which the university will use to digitize, maintain, and store the collection.

—Maria Di Mento

33. Edward H. and Vivian Merrin—$30.2 million to Tufts University. Edward Merrin, an expert in pre-Colombian art and ancient antiquities, founded the Merrin Gallery, in New York, which specializes in Egyptian, Greek, and Roman antiquities. He is also a private investor. Merrin, 82, and his wife, Vivian, 79, pledged $30 million to Tufts University, in Medford, Mass., to establish a new scholarship fund. The university will receive the donation upon the donors' deaths. Edward Merrin graduated from Tufts in 1959 with a bachelor's degree in economics and served on the university's board of trustees from 1980 to 1991. The couple's three sons, Edwards Merrin's brother, and one of his cousins also graduated from the university. The couple said they pledged the donation last year to commemorate Edward Merrin's 60th class reunion. Merrin said he also felt the time was right because the Tufts president, Lawrence S. Bacow, is stepping down this year. The couple was inspired by Bacow to make financial aid a philanthropic priority. "Because this is a recession year, we thought we should step up and make a major gift and try to induce other people [of means] that now is the most important time to do so," said Merrin. The philanthropist said he and his wife originally planned to make their gift anonymously, but university officials persuaded them to attach their name to the gift as a way to encourage other donors to give. "The publicity is not something we enjoy," said Merrin, who first learned about philanthropy as a child, when each week he took one penny out of his 5 cent allowance and deposited it in the family's "pushka," a Yiddish term for a box kept in the home for charitable donations. In addition to their large pledge, the Merrins gave the university three donations last year, including $100,000 for Tufts Hillel, $25,000 for the university's art gallery, and a $50,000 pledge for the previously established Merrin Term Scholarship. In 2005, the Merrins gave the university $3 million to endow a professorship in the humanities. Edward Merrin serves on the boards of the Jewish Association for Services for the Aged, the American Joint Distribution Committee, and Lincoln Center Theater, all in New York. Vivian Merrin also serves on the board of the distribution committee.

—Maria Di Mento

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34. William P. and Lou W. Kennedy—$30.1 million to the University of South Carolina. William Kennedy, 66, has owned several pharmaceutical companies, including Rotech Medical Corp., which he sold in 1997 for about $1 billion. Lou Kennedy, 47, is president of Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corp., an Orlando, Fla., company the couple owns. The Kennedys pledged $30 million, of which $1 million has been paid, to the University of South Carolina, in Columbia, for its College of Pharmacy. The money will establish the William P. and Lou W. Kennedy Pharmacy Innovation Center, which will focus on providing pharmacy students with a chance to learn business skills and provide researchers and faculty with updated labs and other programs. The Kennedys plan to pay $1 million a year over 10 years. The university will receive the remaining $20 million upon the donors' deaths. William Kennedy said he and his wife made the gift as a way to improve health care. "There is room for pharmacists to do a lot more than what they're doing in health care," he said. "To do that, they have to be innovative and have a mind that is entrepreneurial to think about how they can apply their pharmacy education to the changes in the health-care environment." In addition to their large pledge, the Kennedys gave the university a total of $75,500 for other campus programs. Both donors are alumni of the university.

—Maria Di Mento

35. Alvin S. and Terese Lane—$30 million to the Chazen Museum of Art at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Alvin Lane, a former partner at Wien, Lane & Klein who was 89 when he died in 2007, and his wife, Terese, who was 88 when she died in 2010, bequeathed a collection of 340 artworks valued at about $30 million to the Chazen Museum of Art at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. The collection includes sculptures and preparatory drawings by Alexander Calder, Pablo Picasso, and other 20th-century artists. Alvin Lane graduated from the university in 1940 with a bachelor's degree in history. Russell Panczenko, the museum's director, got to know the Lanes in the late 1980s when he traveled to New York to visit alumni in the area. A New Jersey native, Alvin Lane once told Panczenko that he decided to attend the University of Wisconsin when he was unable to attend some East Coast universities because of quotas for Jewish students. Over time a friendship developed, and in the following years Panczenko tried to persuade the Lanes that the Chazen would be the best fit for the couple's collection. But Alvin Lane wasn't completely convinced. By 1995, Panczenko had talked the Lanes into showing some of their collection at the museum. Pleased with the experience and impressed with the extensive amount of space their art was given, the couple decided to leave the bulk of their collection there. The Lanes also left a painting by Jasper Johns to the Currier Museum of Art, in Manchester, N.H., and another painting by Stuart Davis to the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, in Hanover, N.H. Officials at both of those museums declined to place a value on the paintings and said they have not received the works from the Lanes' estate.

Maria Di Mento

35. John C. Malone—$30 million to Johns Hopkins University. Malone, 69, is chairman of Liberty Media Corp., a media and entertainment investment company, and Liberty Global, a cable and broadband Internet-service provider, both in Englewood, Colo. He gave $30 million to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore to construct a 56,000-square-foot interdisciplinary research building for the Whiting School of Engineering. The building, which will be named for Malone, will gather engineers, life-science scholars, and medical researchers to figure out how to use information science to help screen people for diseases, diagnose them, and treat them. The effort will start with cancer patients and then expand into other diseases. The gift has already been paid. Malone earned a master's degree in industrial management in 1964 and a doctoral degree in operations research in 1967, both from the university.

—Caroline Bermudez

35. Tamsen Ann Ziff—$30 million to the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Ziff designs fine jewelry and founded Tamsen Z, an upscale jewelry boutique in New York. She is the widow of William B. Ziff Jr., the former head of Ziff Davis, a New York publishing company, who died in 2006. Ziff, 64, pledged $30 million to the Metropolitan Opera, in New York, where she is co-chairwoman of the board of directors. She placed no restrictions on how the gift can be used. Her connection to the opera company runs deep. Her mother, Harriet Henders, was an opera singer in the 1930s and '40s who made her U.S. debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1939 in Der Rosenkavalier, by Richard Strauss. The opera did not disclose a payment schedule for the pledge. Ziff also serves on the boards of the American Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, New York Restoration Project, and the World Science Festival, all in New York, as well as Conservation International, in Arlington, Va., and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, in Coral Gables, Fla.

—Maria Di Mento

38. Theodore and Vada Stanley—$29.1 million to the Stanley Family Foundation and Stanley Medical Research Institute. Theodore Stanley, 79, founded MBI, a Norwalk, Conn., company that develops and markets collectible items. He and his wife, Vada, 78, gave $17.1 million to their Stanley Family Foundation, in Norwalk, Conn., which they established in 1985. The foundation primarily supports mental-health services as well as education and the arts. The Stanleys also donated $6 million to the Stanley Medical Research Institute, in Chevy Chase, Md., to support research into and treatment of mental illness. They established the institute in 1989. The Stanleys also gave a total of $6 million to about 40 nonprofits last year, including $3 million to the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, in Cambridge, Mass., for its mental-illness research program; to the Carter Center, in Atlanta; the Manhattan Institute, in New York; and several human-services and youth organizations.

— Maria Di Mento

39. Stephen and Nancy Grand—$28.1 million to the American Technion Society. Stephen Grand, 67, is president and partner of Grand-Sakwa Properties, a developer of residential and retail properties in Farmington Hills, Mich. He and his wife, Nancy, 61, have pledged $20 million to the American Technion Society, the fundraising arm for the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, in Haifa, Israel, for the university's energy-studies courses and research. The donation will support research on alternative fuels, renewable energy, conservation, and storage. The pledge, of which $2 million has been paid, will be distributed over 10 years. Stephen Grand successfully fought multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood cells, and credits research conducted at Technion with helping him survive a disease that is often fatal. He has served on its national board of directors and is a member of the Technion's International board of governors. The couple previously gave $10 million in 2001 to the university's Water Research Institute, which was then named in their honor, and have supported a dormitory and research projects at the Technion. In addition to the $20 million gift, the Grands donated $100,000 to the American Technion Society to help the university finance research on the breakdown of proteins. Stephen Grand serves on the board of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, in Norwalk., Conn, and is a member of the executive committee at the Birthright Israel Foundation, in New York. In addition, the Grands donated a total of $8 million to the following groups: the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, in Washington; the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, in Little Rock; the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation; the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco (Nancy Grand is vice president of its board); and the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation, where Nancy Grand will be inducted as president of the board in June.

—Caroline Bermudez

40. David M. Rubenstein—$26.6 million to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the University of Chicago Law School, the Library of Congress, and the Foundation for the National Archives. Rubenstein, 61, is a co-founder and the managing director of the Carlyle Group, a private-equity firm, in Washington. He pledged $10 million, of which $2 million has been paid, to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, in Washington, where he serves as chairman of the board of trustees. Of the total, Rubenstein has earmarked $5 million to support the National Symphony Orchestra and to celebrate the tenure of Christoph Eschenbach, the orchestra's new music director. The donor directed $2.5 million to support a significant production each year, to be called the Rubenstein Program; $1.5 million for an arts-education program for students in kindergarten through high school; and $200,000 for activities such as the Kennedy Center Honors, the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, and others. Rubenstein plans to pay the remainder of the pledge at an annual rate of $2 million over the next four years. In addition, Rubenstein pledged $10 million to the University of Chicago Law School for full-tuition scholarships. He has paid $500,000 toward the pledge and plans to pay the rest over the next five years. Rubenstein, who has served on the university's board of trustees since 2007, earned a law degree at the university in 1973. A self-made billionaire, Rubenstein said he gave the donation because the law school gave him an opportunity that he would like others to have and because he wants to help the law school compete with peer institutions to attract the best students. Rubenstein also pledged $5 million, of which $1 million has been paid, to the Library of Congress, in Washington, to help support the library's annual National Book Festival and for reading programs. The remainder of the pledge will be paid over the next four years at $1 million annually. He also gave $1 million to the Foundation for the National Archives, in Washington, to build a new display case for the Magna Carta, a 714-year-old English charter that is considered one of the most important legal documents in history. When H. Ross Perot put the Magna Carta document up for auction in 2007, Rubenstein jumped at the chance to buy it, wanting to ensure this copy—the only one in the United States—stayed in the country. He bought the document for $21.3 million at a Sotheby's auction and has lent it indefinitely to the National Archives. In addition to those gifts, Rubenstein gave many smaller donations in 2010, including $350,000 to the Economic Club of Washington; $170,000 to the D.C. Public Education Fund, in Washington; and $128,000 to Junior Achievement of the National Capital Area.

—Maria Di Mento

41. Dyson Family—$25 million to Cornell University. The Dyson brothers—John S. Dyson, Peter L. Dyson, and Robert R. Dyson— pledged $25 million to Cornell University to establish a school of applied economics and management, which will be named for the Dysons' father, Charles H. Dyson. John S. Dyson, a former deputy mayor of New York, founded Millbrook Capital Management, a New York investment firm that operates a hedge fund, a manufacturing company, and a winery. Peter L. Dyson is president of Dyson, Dyson and Dunn, a private-equity firm in Winnetka, Ill. Robert R. Dyson is chairman of the Dyson-Kissner-Moran Corp., a holding company in New York. John S. Dyson graduated from Cornell in 1965 with a bachelor's degree in agricultural economics; and Robert R. Dyson earned a master's degree in business administration at the university in 1974. A payment schedule was not available.

— Maria Di Mento

41. Mary E. McKinney—$25 million to the University of Texas at San Antonio. McKinney, who was 79 when she died in 2009, was a retired elementary schoolteacher who inherited securities and ranchland containing oil and gas rights from her parents. She left at least $25 million to the University of Texas at San Antonio for scholarships. She did not attend the university until late in life. She had earned a bachelor's degree in 1950 from Trinity University, in San Antonio, and a master's degree in education from the University of Texas at Austin in 1952. In the 1990s she decided to take some graduate-level courses at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Standing in line in 1991 to pay her tuition, she overheard a couple of students talking about their struggle to pay their tuition. Without saying a word, Ms. McKinney stepped out of the line and went upstairs to the university's development office, where she wrote a check for $4,000 to donate for financial aid. She ended up donating a total of $250,000 to the university before this bequest, which represents the bulk of her estate.

— Maria Di Mento

42. Paul and Daisy M. Soros—$25 million to the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. Paul Soros, 84, founded Soros Associates, a port-construction company, in Chicago, and Paul Soros Investments, in New York. Daisy Soros, 81, is a retired social worker. They gave $25 million to the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, in New York, to support higher education for immigrants and their children. The nonprofit, which they created in 1998, awards immigrants to the United States and their children two years of full tuition and help with expenses so they can pursue graduate study in any subject at any U.S. university. To date, the organization has supported more than 380 students. The couple came to the United States from Hungary in 1948 with only about $1,500, and while Paul Soros had been accepted to both Columbia and Harvard, he couldn't afford the tuition at either institution. So he chose to enroll at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, in Brooklyn, N.Y. As his wealth grew (in part from investments he made with his younger brother, the philanthropist and financier George Soros, who ranks No. 1 on the 2010 Slate 60), he and Daisy decided they would prefer to set up an organization that would help immigrants struggling with the cost of education, rather than finance any one university or graduate program. "I have always preferred investing directly in individuals and not putting my name on buildings," said Paul Soros. Steep increases in university tuition prompted the couple to donate to the organization last year, said Soros, who added that he and his wife have been monitoring the cost of tuition at many graduate schools over the past several years and felt now was the right time to raise the amount available to those they assist. "Student indebtedness is a plague of our times," said Paul Soros. "We want Soros Fellows to have as little debt as possible and hence more options for their futures." Daisy Soros serves on the boards of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the New York Philharmonic, and Weill Cornell Medical College, all of which are in New York.

—Maria Di Mento

43. Jan T. and Marica F. Vilcek—$23.1 million to the New York University Langone Medical Center. Dr. Vilcek, 77, is a professor of microbiology at New York University School of Medicine and co-developed Remicade, an anti-inflammatory drug. Marica Vilcek,74, is a former associate curator and head of the accessions and catalog department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York. They pledged $21 million to New York University Langone Medical Center. Of the total, $10 million will go toward a new residence hall for students, $10 million will endow full-tuition scholarships, and $1 million will be added to the Jan T. Vilcek Endowed Fellowship Fund, which the couple established five years ago. Dr. Vilcek said he hopes the donation will "enable talented young medical students and researchers to have the same opportunities that I did at NYU Langone." He added that he and his wife hope to improve the competitiveness of the medical school and attract the best-qualified students. While they have an eye toward present and future students, the couple's reasons for giving to the medical center are rooted in their past. They came to the United States 46 years ago as refugees from what was then communist Czechoslovakia with no money and few contacts. "We earned our small fortune not by speculating in the financial markets but by doing scientific research in a university setting," said Dr. Vilcek. He said the medical center gave him the opportunity to be a part of its family, and it in turn became his intellectual home. He and his wife now want to make it possible for others to succeed. The Vilceks have paid $8.3 million toward the pledge and plan to pay the remainder over the next three years. The $21 million commitment is not the Vilceks' first gift to the institution or even their largest. In 2005, the couple pledged $105 million to the medical school for education and research programs in the department of microbiology. The Vilceks last year gave $1 million to their Vilcek Foundation, in New York, which they established in 2000. The foundation awards grants and prizes with a focus on calling attention to the contributions of immigrants to science and the arts in the United States. The couple also gave $700,000 to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a total of more than $390,000 to other nonprofits, including the Bellevue Literary Press, in New York, several scientific research funds at New York University, and other organizations.

—Maria Di Mento

45. David H. Koch—$23 million to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the House Ear Institute. Koch, 70, is executive vice president of Koch Industries, an oil and gas refinery in Wichita, Kan., that was founded by his father, Fred C. Koch. He pledged $10 million to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York, to renovate the fountains and front plaza of the museum. He also serves on the museum's board of directors. He also committed $8 million last year to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge, to support two professorships, one in science and another in engineering, that will be connected to the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT. The institute was established when Mr. Koch gave MIT $100 million in 2007 for the research center's creation. A portion of that gift will also support a head basketball coach post. Koch earned a bachelor's degree at MIT in 1962 and a master's degree the following year. Payment schedules could not be determined for either the museum or the MIT pledge. In addition to those commitments, Koch pledged $5 million to the House Ear Institute, in Los Angeles, to create a center for hearing restoration that will be named for him. He paid $1 million toward the pledge in 2010 and plans to pay the remainder over the next four years.—Maria Di Mento

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46. Bion R. Cram—$21.5 million to Fryeburg Academy and Bowdoin College. Cram, 93 when he died in 2008, was a retired stockbroker who had worked at Spencer Trask & Company and Shearson Loeb Rhoades, both in New York. He left about $11.5 million to the Fryeburg Academy, a private school in Maine. Cram stipulated that about one-half of the money be used to endow scholarships, and the other one-half should go to support resources such as books, laboratories, and upkeep for the library, which the academy had named for Cram in 2002 after he donated $500,000 for a new building. A scholarship student and 1933 graduate of the academy, Cram came to the school's rescue in 2005 when, after a fire destroyed the institution's gymnasium, he promptly donated $3 million to rebuild it. The donor also bequeathed $10 million to Bowdoin College, in Brunswick, Maine, for a professorship in economics and for scholarships. Cram graduated from Bowdoin in 1937 with a degree in economics.—Maria Di Mento

47. Harold C. and Annette C. Simmons—20.03 million to Baylor Health Care System Foundation. Harold Simmons, 79, is chairman of Titanium Metals Corporation and founded Contran, a holding company, in Dallas. He and his wife, Annette, 75, pledged $20 million to the Baylor Health Care System Foundation, in Dallas, to endow the Annette C. and Harold C. Simmons Transplant Institute. The couple paid $5 million toward the pledge in 2010 and plan to pay the remainder in annual $5 million increments through 2013. The donors also gave the health-system foundation two smaller donations: one of $25,000 for the foundation's Celebrating Women breast-cancer fundraising campaign and another of $2,500 for its Advancing Nursing Excellence scholarship program. Ms. Simmons serves on the foundation's board of directors.

—Maria Di Mento

48. Howard G. and Louise Phanstiel—$20.02 million to Syracuse University. The Phanstiels are managing directors of Phanstiel Enterprises, a private consulting and investment firm in Los Angeles. Howard Phanstiel, 62, is the former chief executive of PacifiCare Health Systems. He and Louise, 52, pledged $20 million to establish a scholarship program for middle-income students who are citizens of the United States. Howard Phanstiel grew up in a middle-income family in Merrick, N.Y., and held part-time jobs to help pay his way through Syracuse, where he earned a bachelor's degree in political science in 1970 and a master's degree in public administration in 1971. He is a trustee of the university and a co-chair of its $1 billion capital campaign, which was started in 2007. The couple previously pledged $1.5 million in 2007 to help construct the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center. The couple started thinking about a big gift when Howard Phanstiel spearheaded a fundraising effort to assist students who might otherwise be forced to leave the university because the recession had harmed their family's finances. Syracuse was able to provide more than $1 million in aid to more than 425 student as a result of the campaign. Howard Phanstiel also credits the late Paul Newman for compelling him to give. (He came to know the actor and philanthropist when his company sponsored Newman's race car.) The Phanstiels hope that the gift makes it easier for middle-income students to attend the university. In a statement to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, they wrote: "As America's middle-class families increasingly require assistance to supplement their own personal sacrifice in order to finance their children's education, our intent is to make possible a meaningful financial award that makes the difference in a student's ability to earn a degree from Syracuse." The university did not disclose a payment schedule for the gift. The Phanstiels also gave $20,000 to the Community Folk Art Center at the university.

—Caroline Bermudez

49. Iris Cantor—$20 million to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Cantor, the widow of B. Gerald Cantor, who founded Cantor Fitzgerald, a global securities firm in New York, pledged $20 million to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center to establish a men's health center, which will be named for Ms. Cantor and is scheduled to open in 2011. A payment schedule was not available. Cantor, who previously gave the organization $5 million in 2002 to establish the Iris Cantor Women's Health Center, said in a written statement that almost 40 percent of the patients treated at the women's center are men who were brought in by the women in their lives. "This signaled to me that there is a real need for a dedicated men's health center," said Cantor in the statement. "It is time for men to have a place of their own for comprehensive health care."

— Maria Di Mento