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As wealthy loosen purse strings, is Tampa Bay philanthropy on the upswing?

After a post-recession lull in giving by the wealthy, Tampa Bay area universities are enjoying a charitable bonanza that some area philanthropists hope will accelerate in the coming years.

In recent months, two of the University of South Florida business schools have become recipients of a total of $35 million. In Tampa, USF named its school the Muma College of Business following a $25 million gift from USF boosters Les and Pam Muma. And retired entrepreneur Kate Tiedemann's $10 million gift to the school at smaller USF St. Petersburg resulted in its new name: the Kate Tiedemann College of Business.

Now comes another $10 million to the University of Tampa from Howard and Patricia Jenkins, part of the Publix Super Markets founding family's philanthropy. Combined, those three gifts mean $45 million for area universities that, so far this year, rank among the top donations in the Sunshine State by individual philanthropies.

Large-scale giving during the recession and in the tepid recovery proved spotty at best.

In 2013, the area's largest single gift was a $2.7 million bequest in Bradenton to the Manatee Community Foundation.

In 2012, the area's standout gift was the $12 million donation from Kiran and Pallavi Patel to USF.

In 2011, Frank and Carol Morsani gave $20 million and put their name on USF's Morsani College of Medicine — a decision at the time that Frank Morsani told me he hoped would spur more people of means to give to their communities.

Not that rich Floridians give only to Florida institutions. The opposite in fact has proved true for many years, with the wealthy who call Florida home (at least for tax purposes) spreading plenty of charity to other states, especially to their alma maters and health organizations back up North. For example, Worcester Polytechnic Institute alum and paper processing manufacturer Robert Foisie, now of Port St. Lucie, gave $40 million — the largest contribution ever — to his Massachusetts school in 2014.

Once in a while, major giving works in Florida's favor. The University of Florida's business school, already known as the Warrington College of Business, this year received its latest and greatest pledge of money — $75 million — from Alfred Warrington (class of '58) of Texas. He founded a business called Sanifill, now better known as Waste Management. That sum is the largest donation made to any organization in Florida this year; the Muma's $25 million to USF ranks second in size.

Is this the start of an upswing in substantial giving fueled by a burst of inheritance money, the increasing retirement of rich baby boomers and — so far — a stock market that has nearly tripled since 2009 and concentrated even more money in the hands of the super-wealthy?

It comes as no surprise that business schools now enjoy the bounty of aging graduates and those who appreciate and benefitted from the skills of hard work and capitalism.

Contact Robert Trigaux at

What Florida organizations received the biggest donations in 2014

Donor Recipient Amount Because

Alfred & Judy Warrington, Texas University of Florida business school $75M Waste Management founder Alfred is an alum.

Les & Pam Muma, Belleair USF Tampa business school $25M Both are USF grads.

Paul & Swanee DiMare, Homestead University of Miami $12.5M Big tomato grower.

Kate Tiedemann, Belleair USF St. Petersburg business school $10M Retired founder of medical instrument firm.

Howard & Patricia Jenkins, Lakeland University of Tampa $10M Publix family, Howard is a UT trustee.

Where Floridians gave the most in 2014

Recipient Donor Amount Because

Posse Foundation, N.Y. Timothy & (son) Jeff Ubben, Naples $50M Education group, both on board.

Worcester PolyTech, Mass. Robert Foisie, Port St. Lucie $40M He is a grad.

USF Tampa business school Les & Pam Muma, Belleair $25M They are both grads.

Eastern Kentucky University Donald & Irene Dizney, Windermere $15M Don, who ran United Medical Corp., is a grad.

Hunter College, N.Y. Jay & Patty Baker, Naples $15M Jay ran Kohl's, Patty is a Hunter grad.

Source: The Chronicle of Philanthropy

As wealthy loosen purse strings, is Tampa Bay philanthropy on the upswing? 10/27/14 [Last modified: Monday, October 27, 2014 9:04pm]
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