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2015 emerges as a big year for philanthropy dollars aimed at Florida universities — including USF

 USF college of business senior Marcos Gonzalez, center, holds a thank you sign after the announcement that USF alum Barron "Barry" Collier III and his wife Dana Collier were donating $10.9 million to the Muma College of Business in August.  The money is going to the newly renamed Collier Student Success Center that will provide scholarships to business students. The donation was one of several large donations received by USF and other Florida universities this year. Photo by JAMES BORCHUCK  |  Times

USF college of business senior Marcos Gonzalez, center, holds a thank you sign after the announcement that USF alum Barron "Barry" Collier III and his wife Dana Collier were donating $10.9 million to the Muma College of Business in August. The money is going to the newly renamed Collier Student Success Center that will provide scholarships to business students. The donation was one of several large donations received by USF and other Florida universities this year. Photo by JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

To say it has been a very good year for philanthropic giving to certain Florida universities would be an understatement.

The $100 million gift to Florida State University, announced earlier this month from Jan Moran and The Jim Moran Foundation, topped all donations to any Florida university — in fact, to any Florida entity — this year.

The gift appears to have set a record for giving to a Florida university and will be used to fund the Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship in downtown Tallahassee. Jim Moran started a major Florida-based distribution business of Toyota autos, becoming a multi-billionaire before his death in 2007.

Before Moran's gift to FSU, the largest donation to a Florida university was a $75 million pledge in 2014 from Alfred Warrington IV, a founder of Waste Management, and Judy Warrington to the University of Florida Warrington College of Business. UF this year also received a $50 million gift from the Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Foundation, money that came from health product invention and manufacturing.

The University of Miami, a private school, in 2015 was the recipient of a $55 million gift from the Miller family, whose Stuart Miller runs Miami's Lennar housing company. The University of Miami Health System, Florida International University and Lynn University in Boca Raton also benefited from larger gifts this year.

While the gift sizes may be smaller, the University of South Florida enjoyed a banner 2015 in philanthropy. Three major donations this year combined to provide USF with more than $30 million. Real estate wealth behind Barron Collier III and Dana Collier prompted a $10.9 million gift to USF's Muma College of Business to focus on career preparedness. Right behind the Colliers was a $10 million gift from advertising executive and part-owner of the Florida Panthers hockey franchise, Jordan Zimmerman, to USF's School of Advertising and Mass Communications. And a third gift, also of $10 million, was made earlier this year by Lynn Pippenger, a retired accountant and Raymond James Financial senior vice president, to USF's capital campaign.

Those USF gifts come on the heels of 2014's donations to the university by Les and Pam Muma, whose $25 million (a record thus far for USF) included the naming of USF's business school in Tampa after them.

Kate Tiedemann, a retired medical products entrepreneur, also gave $10 million last year with her name now added to the USF St. Petersburg's college of business.

And Tampa Bay Lightning owner and real estate developer Jeff Vinik kicked in a non-cash gift valued at $12 million to help relocate USF's medical school to downtown Tampa.

Larger gifts to USF, those of at least $10 million in size, began popping up only in recent years. They were sparked, in part, by the 2011 gift of $20 million by Tampa's Frank and Carol Morsani, whose name now adorns USF's medical school. At the time, Frank Morsani, who became wealthy as a car dealer, suggested the increased generosity of giving might encourage others with money to be more forthcoming to the university.

Morsani may be on to something. Since the Morsani gift four years ago, USF has received nearly $90 million in major philanthropic gifts from just seven donors.

Contact Robert Trigaux at rtrigaux@tampabay.com. Follow @venturetampabay.

2015 emerges as a big year for philanthropy dollars aimed at Florida universities — including USF 12/29/15 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 29, 2015 12:19pm]
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