December 8, 2023

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Higher Ed


At least nine public and private universities in Florida have received what they call transformative donations since 2014.

Amy Martinez | 5/25/2016

In December, Florida State University announced what appears to be the largest donation ever made to a public university in Florida — $100 million from Jan Moran and the Jim Moran Foundation for a new school of entrepreneurship.

Jan Moran, widow of Jim Moran, the billionaire founder of Deerfi eld Beach-based JM Family Enterprises, says she wanted to “forever secure” his legacy and honor his passion for supporting entrepreneurship. The Morans had already established themselves as a top donors at FSU [box, page 99], with donations totaling more than $9 million over the past 20 years.

Across Florida, charitable giving to higher education has surged to record levels, led by seven-, eight- or even ninefi gure pledges — including several large gifts, like the Moran donation, in support of entrepreneurship education.

Tom Jennings, vice president for university advancement at FSU and president of the FSU Foundation, says a post-recession rebound in stock and real estate prices has left alumni and other key supporters feeling more philanthropic. Donors “want to give when prices are at their peak,” he says.

Many colleges and universities have launched aggressive campaigns to build on the fundraising momentum. The University of South Florida, for example, is more than 90% toward its goal of raising $1 billion by the end of 2018.

“A $1-billion capital campaign in today’s world is almost the norm,” says Holly Duncan, a longtime fundraiser for various non-profi t groups in the Tampa Bay area. She’s now a philanthropy consultant to USF St. Petersburg, which received a $10-million donation for its business school from a local retiree in late 2014. The university followed that up with a recent $5-million donation for a new business school building from Lynn Pippenger, an alumna and former Raymond James executive.

“Donors give to success,” Duncan says. “The more successful a campaign becomes, the more inclined donors are to be part of that.”

Public Colleges & Universities

University Of Florida

» $50 million from alumnus Herbert Wertheim and his wife, Nicole, toward the engineering school, which was renamed the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering. Wertheim is a south Florida eye doctor and entrepreneur who invented the UV coating for sunglasses. Two years ago, UF announced the largest donation in its history, a $75-million gift from alumnus Al Warrington and his wife, Judy, that will bolster an endowment for business professors. UF’s business school was named for the Warringtons after an earlier, $12-million gift. Warrington founded the company that became Waste Management.

University of South Florida

» $25 million from alumni Les and Pam Muma toward the business school, which was renamed the Muma College of Business. The Mumas are USF’s top benefactors, donating more than $41 million over the years. Les Muma is the retired CEO of Fiserv, a provider of computer networks to banks. The donation was the largest in USF’s 60-year history.

Frank and Carol Morsani are USF’s second-largest donors, giving a total of almost $40 million.

Lynn Pippenger, a former Raymond James executive, gave $10 million to the Muma College, which also received $2.9 million from Naples entrepreneurs Frank and Ellen Daveler to create an entrepreneurship program.

Florida International University

» $20 million from the Green Family Foundation to name FIU’s school of international and public affairs for Steven J. Green, a former U.S. ambassador to Singapore. Green heads Miami-based Greenstreet Partners, a private investment company. The donation matched a record $20-million gift from the Wertheim family foundation for the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine in 2009. Green says he wanted to “make sure the I in FIU was a big I, for ‘international.’ ”

Florida Atlantic University

» $16 million from the Schmidt Family Foundation for a new athletic and academic center. The foundation’s head, Dick Schmidt, earned his MBA from FAU in 1970. The donation was the largest in school history.

University of South Florida

» St. Petersburg $10 million from retired entrepreneur Kate Tiedemann for the business school. Tiedemann, who never went to high school or college, came to the U.S. from Germany in 1955 and eventually started and sold a surgical instrument company in New Jersey. After moving to Pinellas County, Tiedemann established a rapport with Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska and became impressed with the faculty and students. She says she hopes her donation will “affirm and accelerate their good work.” USF St. Petersburg subsequently named its business school the Kate Tiedemann College of Business.

University of West Florida

» $5 million from longtime supporter Hal Marcus for the College of Science and Engineering. Marcus, a Pensacola resident and retired textile executive, says he wanted to leave a legacy for Judy Bense in her final year as UWF president. The donation was the largest from a living donor in UWF history and enough for naming rights. The Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering is UWF’s first named college.

University of North Florida

» $5 million from local philanthropists Ann and David Hicks to create a college for honors students. Ann Hicks, a Jacksonville native, is a 1995 graduate of UNF.

University of Central Florida

» $5 million from hotelier Harris Rosen to establish an endowed deanship in UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management. A decade ago, Rosen gave $18 million in land and money to UCF for construction of a hospitality campus in Orlando’s I-Drive tourist district.

Meanwhile, UCF is drawing support from private donors and corporations for its plans for a new campus in downtown Orlando. In December, UCF President John Hitt called on the community to contribute $20 million toward a $60-million building that will be the campus centerpiece. By March, UCF had raised $16 million.

Florida Gulf Coast University

» $4 million from real estate developer Barron Collier and his wife, Dana, to support scholarships for Collier County students. The couple first endowed a scholarship fund in 1995. Their daughter is an FGCU graduate.

Florida Polytechnic University

» $1.2 million from Lakelandbased Saddle Creek Logistics to support scholarships and the university’s mission. Since opening in 2014, Florida Poly also has received gifts of $5 million and $3 million from anonymous donors.

Private Colleges & Universities

University of Miami

» In January, Julio Frenk, UM’s new president, announced a $100-million donation from billionaire couple Phillip and Patricia Frost for science and engineering programs. The donation matched a $100-million pledge from the Miller family (of Lennar) in the mid-2000s. Frost, who taught in the dermatology program at UM’s medical school from 1966- 72, grew wealthy developing and selling pharmaceutical companies. He and his wife, a former elementary school principal, have long been top donors at UM, contributing $33 million in 2003 to create the Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music.

The university also received $55 million from the Miller family to fund a new medical education building on the campus of the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine and to support UM’s Frost School of Music. The Millers have a long history of philanthropy at UM, pledging more than $220 million over the years. Stuart Miller, CEO of Miami-based home builder Lennar, earned a law degree from UM and is chairman of the board of trustees.

Lynn University

» $15 million from namesake benefactor Christine Lynn for construction of a university center on the Boca Raton campus. The center, scheduled to open in 2018, will have student meeting and activity rooms, dining facilities, a campus store and mailroom and student government offices. The donation was the largest in school history.

University of Tampa

» $10 million from Howard Jenkins, chairman of Publix’s executive committee, and his wife, Patricia, for campus construction. Howard Jenkins, son of founder George Jenkins, is a former member of the school’s board of trustees, and his children attended UT. The school named a residence hall in the Jenkins’ honor.

Stetson University

» $5.5 million from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous for a merit-based scholarship program for students at the DeLand school who show leadership potential.

Florida Southern College

» $5 million from alumnus Bill Becker, CEO of Peace River Citrus Products in Vero Beach, and his wife, Mary Ann Becker, to name a new business education building.

Ringling College of Art and Design

» $3 million from Sarasota residents Richard and Barbara Basch for construction of a visual arts center. Richard Basch, a retired radiologist, is a member of the school’s board of trustees, and his wife serves on the council of the Sarasota Museum of Art, a division of Ringling College.

Saint Leo University

» $1 million from alumnus John Picciano to support scholarships for students who need fi nancial assistance. Picciano, who graduated from the Pasco County university in 1969, is CEO of Tampa-based health care management company Oglethorpe.

Nova Southeastern University

» $1 million from AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson and his wife, Alice, to support the Rumbaugh-Goodwin Institute for Cancer Research at the Broward County school. Alice Jackson is a breast cancer survivor and a longtime supporter of the institute.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

» $1 million from Seattle aerospace entrepreneur Jim Raisbeck to create an endowed professorship focused on applied engineering for juniors and seniors on the Prescott, Ariz., campus.

Flagler College

» $1 million from the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust for an endowed professorship. A brother-in-law of Henry Flagler, Kenan helped run the Flagler system of hotels and railroads until his death in 1965; his great-nephew, Lawrence Lewis Jr., played a key role in founding the St. Augustine college in 1968.

Florida State University

In the early 1990s, Jim Moran struck up a friendship with Melvin Stith, then dean of the FSU College of Business. The friendship lead to a philanthropic relationship. In 1995, Moran gave $1 million to create the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship at FSU.

Moran, who never went to college, amassed a fortune as founder of Deerfield Beach-based JM Family Enterprises, a familyowned automotive company that operates one of only two independent Toyota distributorships in the U.S.

Moran died in 2007, but his widow, Jan Moran, JM Family Enterprises and the Jim Moran Foundation continued to support FSU’s entrepreneurship efforts. All told, the Morans donated more than $9 million until last year.

In December, Jan Moran and the Jim Moran Foundation pledged $100 million for an interdisciplinary, degree-granting school of entrepreneurship at FSU. Two months later, FSU got more good news: Lobbyist Brian Ballard and his wife, Kathryn, an FSU alumna and trustee, gave the school a building valued at $1.1 million near the Capitol.

FSU plans to open the Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship in August 2018, on what would have been Jim Moran’s 100th birthday

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