Thanks a Million

Or more precisely, $369.35 million; that’s how much the most generous Texans have given away since June 1995. Presenting our tally of the state’s top philanthropists: who gives, TO WHOM, and why.

Okay, so they’re not Ted Turner. But even if the Texans on the following pages didn’t give a billion dollars to the United Nations, their acts of generosity deserve our gratitude.

In compiling our list, we tried to be as complete as possible. Philanthropy—thankfully—refuses to conform to anyone’s ideas of how, when, and where to give, so it’s hard to be definitive. But we consulted an array of sources. We did extensive research using public records, online databases, and press releases. When we could, we talked to the givers or their representatives. We searched The Chronicle of Philanthropy and the archives of the Foundation Center, which tracks foundation giving. We reviewed annual reports published by the American Association of Fundraising Counsel. And we pored over all the recent compilations of gifts, including those in Forbes, Fortune, The American Benefactor , and Slate magazines.

To compile our honor roll of donors, we used these “rules of the chase,” as Forbes calls them in its annual list of the wealthiest Americans:

• Every list needs boundaries, and ours has two: We counted only gifts made recently, which we defined as since June 1995, and we counted only major gifts, which we defined as $1 million or more. Thus, you won’t find Nancy Hamon’s $25 million gift to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, which paid for the construction of the Nancy B. and Jake L. Hamon Biomedical Research Building; it was made in 1992.

• We tallied only publicly announced gifts that included both the donor’s name and the amount given. Many people prefer to give anonymously or not to publicize the amount of their gift. That’s why we haven’t listed the $25 million gift by an anonymous donor to UT-Southwestern for a scholars program in medical research. We also left out a gift by the family of Robert and Helen Strauss to UT-Southwestern to create two professorships and upgrade a third; because the amount wasn’t revealed, we couldn’t determine where the Strausses would rank. And the Dallas Symphony Orchestra reports that six individuals and families have recently made gifts of $1 million or more—two in excess of $2 million—with the stipulation that their names not be revealed.

• We did not list gifts from family members to their family foundations. Our reasoning is that the real gift occurs when the money moves from the donor’s control into the hands of a nonprofit organization. So Linda Pace Roberts’ endowment of a $10 million foundation to fund contemporary art does not appear. Nor do Raymond D. Nasher’s plans to build a two-acre sculpture garden in Dallas to house his $50 million sculpture collection, since the Nasher Foundation purchased the land and will own the art and pay for the development and maintenance of the garden [see “Raymond Nasher,” page 105].

• We restricted our list to people whose primary residence is in Texas. So Robert M. and Anne T. Bass made the cut, even though they also maintain a home in New York. But not Tyler native Larry Johnson, who plays for the NBA’s New York Knicks; his recent $1 million donation to build a recreation center in South Dallas is certainly worthy of note, but his business and home addresses are in New York.

• We did not include gifts from deceased Texans. Regrettably, that meant omitting Albert Kronkosky, Jr., who donated the bulk of his $300 million estate to charities in Bexar, Bandera, Comal, and Kendall counties. But the late James Michener qualified, since his gifts were made while he was still alive [see “James Michener,” page 103].

One final note: The timing of our list coincides with some institutions’ huge fundraising drives, called capital campaigns, so those institutions appear frequently. That’s why SMU comes up over and over. To the rest of you: Better luck next year.

Robert H. and Nancy Dedman

DALLAS, $33 MILLION
$30 million to Southern Methodist University in Dallas, the largest single gift ever received by the university. $12 million will be used as a challenge grant to build the Dedman Life Sciences Building, which will house SMU’s biological sciences department, state-of-the-art research facilities, and classrooms for all of the natural sciences. The remaining $18 million will be designated for other priorities of SMU’s ongoing capital campaign, which Mr. Dedman co-chairs. He is the founder and chairman of the board of ClubCorp International, the world’s largest network of private city, country, and athletic clubs and resorts. (April 1997)

$1.5 million to the University of North Texas in Denton to establish an endowed chair in club management. (November 1995)

$1.5 million to Florida State University in Tallahassee to help construct a new building for the college of business’ department of hospitality administration. (January 1997)

Previous gifts: $25 million to SMU; $10 million to the University of Texas at Austin, the largest single gift earmarked for scholarships in the school’s history.

Philosophy of giving: “They don’t put luggage racks on hearses,” Mr. Dedman has said. “You can’t take it with you.”

Robert M. and Anne T. Bass

FORT WORTH, $30 MILLION
$20 million to Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, to renovate residential colleges at the alma mater of Mr. Bass, whose Keystone, Inc., controls investments in financial services, publishing, real estate, and oil and gas. (May 1997)

$10 million to Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, to enable “a sale on chairs.” The gift will allow Duke to make chairs for full professorships available for only $1.1 million instead of the usual $1.5 million—the idea being that the cut-rate price might entice 20 to 25 new donors to step forward. (September 1996)

Previous gifts: $25 million to Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, which Mr. Bass also attended; $4 million to Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, Mrs. Bass’s alma mater.

H. R. “Bum” Bright

DALLAS, $25 MILLION
$25 million to Texas A&M University in College Station for an unrestricted endowment, the largest gift of its type in the history of A&M and a precedent-setter

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