University of Michigan and Tufts Announce Largest Gifts Ever

Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor have both announced the largest gifts in their history.

U-M announced a $100 million gift from New York City real estate developer Stephen M. Ross, to its business school. In recognition of the gift, the largest ever to a U.S. business school and the largest gift in the 187-year-history of the university, the school will be renamed the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. "The extraordinary generosity of Stephen Ross will make it possible for us to build our future as the top business school in the nation," said business school dean Robert Dolan. "Our distinctive program is limited only by facilities that simply do not do justice to Michigan's team-based, collaborative educational approach. State-of-the-art facilities will make a critical difference in our ability to recruit faculty and students in a highly competitive arena."

Ross, a U-M business school alumnus and co-chair of the university's $2.5 billion fundraising campaign, is founder and CEO of The Related Companies, developer of the $1.7 billion Time Warner Center in New York and holder of a real estate portfolio valued in excess of $8 billion. "The days I spent at U-M laid the foundation for my career," said Ross in a statement. "It is gratifying for me to be able to provide a gift that will have an enduring impact on the university's ability to be the world's foremost business school. I am giving what I know best — fine, functional, and aesthetic facilities that make it possible for people to do their best work."

Earlier in the week, Tufts University announced that the Cummings Foundation in Woburn, Massachusetts, will invest $50 million in its veterinary school over the next fifteen years. The gift ranks among the largest ever to a Massachusetts college or university and is believed to be the largest ever made to a U.S. veterinary school. In recognition of the gift, the school will be renamed the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. "This gift will help fund needed capital improvements, provide matching funds in support of major research proposals, and greatly strengthen both the educational and clinical mission of the school," said dean Philip Kosch.

William S. Cummings, president and founder of Cummings Properties, is a graduate and trustee emeritus of Tufts and was an overseer of Tufts Medical School. "The mission of Cummings Foundation is to invest in organizations that make contributions to our society," he said in a prepared statement. "We were moved to recommend this commitment due to the practical, entrepreneurial spirit of Tufts University in general, and Tufts veterinary school in particular. This collaboration will help to provide the resources necessary for the school to sustain its vision. We are honored to support this world class institution of higher learning."

According to the New York Times, some university officials have cautioned against interpreting the two milestone gifts as an indication that fundraising at universities nationwide was on the upswing. Nevertheless, the Indianapolis-based Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University reports that the number of donations valued at $1 million or more rose to 351 in the second quarter of 2004, a 33 percent increase over the same period last year, and a 35 percent increase from the first quarter of this year. More than half those donations supported higher education.

Greg Winter. "University of Michigan Gets a $100 Million Gift." New York Times 09/09/2004. "New York City Real Estate Developer Stephen M. Ross Gives $100 Million to University of Michigan Business School." University of Michigan Press Release 09/09/2004. "Tufts University Receives Largest Gift in History." Tufts University Press Release 09/08/2004.