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Your Name Here.

Got $10M? Rutgers will name a business school after you.


Published on November 3, 2006 in the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Roger Dennis, the provost of Rutgers University-Camden, has seen other local colleges benefit from financial gifts from wealthy donors who then had their names attached to business schools.

He has one simple question for anyone interested in having their name conferred to the Rutgers-Camden School of Business.

"How much you got?" he asked last month.

Dennis was joking -- but only slightly, he admitted. This fall, the school has a new dean with grand plans, and those plans cost money. A $10 million donation for naming rights, he said, would pay for a slew of initiatives, including the revision of the undergraduate curriculum and new business incubator programs.

"The money would allow the depth of programming that is really cool," he said.

Since 1997, five area university business schools have been named after patrons who contributed substantial gifts to them. Prior to that, the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School was the only local business program bearing the name of a major contributor.

Most recently, in 2005, Rowan University in Glassboro, N.J., received a $10 million gift and then honored the benefactor, the William G. Rohrer Charitable Foundation, by re-naming its program the Rohrer College of Business.

"The funds will enable the use of new space and facilities for an interdisciplinary business incubator," said Edward Schoen, dean of Rowan's business school. "We're hoping to converge students' abilities and faculty expertise to work on real-life projects."

Rohrer was a South Jersey car dealer, banker, politician and real estate developer, and Schoen believes the program's entrepreneurial thrust honors the man who passed away in 1989.

Temple University, St. Joseph's University, Drexel University and the University of Delaware have also received mammoth gifts within the past decade and honored the backers with naming rights. Only Widener University, La Salle University, Villanova University, West Chester University of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia University operate local business schools that aren't named after a person.

Drexel had been courting big tobacco maverick executive and Drexel alum Bennett LeBow for nearly five years before school President Constantine Papadakis received a call from LeBow.

"Come down to Miami," Papadakis said LeBow told him. "We need to talk. I have a proposal for you."

The president hopped on the first available flight to Florida but the closest he could get to Miami was West Palm Beach. His plane was late and LeBow only had a 30-minute window to talk, so Papadakis zipped down the highway to meet the busy man.

"He's talking about a multimillion-dollar gift," Papadakis recalled, "and I'm late!"

Upon arrival, LeBow took a yellow note pad, wrote a number on it and said, "This is my donation for the naming of the college of business."

The $10 million gift was the largest in the university's history.

Papadakis said that LeBow was making an investment in the college of business, which at the time it was conferred in 1999, was suffering from low enrollment.

"He gambled that we would take the next step and create sufficient excellence to promote the college nationally and internationally," Papadakis said.

Enrollment at the business school has increased by 20 percent since 1998, and now totals about 3,400.

Since Papadakis became Drexel's president in 1995, he has raised millions of dollars by conferring donor names to the college of professional studies, the college of media arts and design and the athletic center, as well as others. The university's endowment has increased from $90 million in his first year to $575 million now.

Next, Papadakis wants to name the medical school, the engineering school and the fledgling law school.

"We have an incredible gamut of opportunities at Drexel because we are growing and up-and-coming," he said.

He is also looking for a major donation toward a proposed new building for the business school.

"Maybe $10 million?" he guessed.

The MBNA Foundation endowed $20 million to the University of Delaware in 2002 in memory of former MBNA CEO and Chairman Alfred Lerner. Lerner's name now graces Delaware's college of business and economics.

M. Moshe Porat, dean of Temple University's Fox School of Business, declined to say how much of a donation Richard J. Fox made before the university conferred his name to the school in 1999. Fox's contributions to the university go far beyond the millions he has donated, Porat said.

"His service to the university is considered next, perhaps, to the founder of the university," said Porat.

Fox, a construction industry giant and real estate magnate who developed the Wachovia Center, joined Temple's board of trustees in 1967. The Central High grad -- who never attended Temple -- remains active on the board.

"He's among the largest donors, in terms of financial commitments to the university at large," Porat said. "But the reason the school was named after him was not because of his financial commitment to the university."

The namesake of the Erivan K. Haub School of Business at St. Joseph's University is a German grocery store mogul whose family operates more than 7,000 outlets around the world, including A&P and Superfresh.

Haub, according to business school Dean Joseph DiAngelo, befriended former school president Fr. Nicholas Rashford during a visit to Philadelphia.

"He took a liking to the school," DiAngelo said, noting that Haub returns frequently, with an upcoming visit scheduled for December.

Haub donated an undisclosed, substantial amount of money in 1998 to build the $25 million Mandeville Hall, which houses the business school.

DiAngelo said that universities have started honoring donors as a way of encouraging more people to present gifts.

"It's a new way to find resources," he said. "Tuition alone is never enough money."

Of course, the first business school was named in 1881, when Joseph Wharton presented the annual interest from $100,000 worth of stocks and securities to the trustees at the University of Pennsylvania. The $6,000 annual yield funded the founding of the Wharton School of Finance and Economics.

The owner of the Bethlehem Iron Co. -- the parent company of Bethlehem Steel -- Wharton himself never attended college. But his family had deep roots in Philadelphia. His maternal ancestors arrived in the city on the ship that carried William Penn. Wharton once owned the land that the Wharton School now rests on. He donated that land, as well as about $750,000 throughout his life, to the school that bears his family's name.

"The name was meant to honor not himself but his family," said Wharton School spokeswoman Cynthia Russell.

Wharton was a relative bargain.

It cost engineer and industrialist Henry Rowan $100 million in 1992 to put his name to the former Glassboro State College. It was the largest donation ever made to a university at the time.

In 2004, real estate developer Stephen Ross contributed $100 million to get his name attached to the University of Michigan's School of Business.

Ross' gift was the largest single donation to a business school until August, when Philip Knight, founder and chairman of Nike, donated $105 million to Stanford University's Graduate School of Business. The 1962 Stanford grad will have a new eight-building complex named after him: the Knight Management Center.

"What donors want for their money is recognition," said Dennis, the Rutgers-Camden provost.

He said his university is also looking for benefactors who would like their name attached to campus buildings. Lesser donations of about $3 million are also being solicited to endow professorships.

Rutgers University itself was renamed in 1825 after former trustee and Revolutionary War veteran Henry Rutgers donated the then-substantial amount of $5,000 to the former Queen's College.

Naming the school of business is a priority, according to Dennis.

"It's one of those things that is high on our list," he said. "We'd love to find somebody to do it."