The largest gift in the university's 49-year history will include a faculty endowment fund as well as funding for academic research, technology, and training, among other initiatives. In recognition of the gift, the college will be named after Tiedemann.
Tiedemann, founder and former CEO of Katena Products, Inc., one of the most successful eye instruments companies in the United States, emigrated to the United States from Germany in 1955. With only a grammar school education under her belt, she worked multiple jobs, including as a maid and cook for former New York governor Thomas E. Dewey, before finding steady employment in the surgical instrument business. She later helped launch two companies in that field and in 1975 founded Katena Products (short for Kate North America), which was sold to the Cortec Group in 2009 and which today markets fourteen hundred products to ophthalmic surgeons, clinics, and hospitals.
Tiedemann said she has often wondered what more she might have achieved had she received a formal education. "My highest level of education is grammar school, but I spent my whole life learning and still continue to do that," she said. "Most of what I know I have learned from others."
"Ms. Tiedemann's personal story of overcoming challenges to fulfill her dreams and to give back to the community is a true inspiration for all," said USF president Judy Genshaft. "As a university system with a strong entrepreneurial spirit and deep commitment to student achievement, we are grateful to have forged this new partnership and to work with such an extraordinary individual in supporting the future of business research and education for generations to come. This gift ensures that others’ dreams will become a reality."