Giving back – $50M for Minnesota school

He never attended college, but entrepreneur Richard M. Schulze did well as the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Minneapolis-based Best Buy Co. Inc.

Now, Schulze and his wife, Sandra, have given $50 million to the University of St. Thomas in nearby St. Paul, where he grew up.

The gift is the largest in the school’s 115-year history and one of the largest to a U.S. college or university in the past three decades.

“Our family has been truly blessed,” Schulze, 59, said in a statement. “We’ve concluded that it is important for us to give back to our community in a meaningful way. We hope our gift will inspire others, particularly the alumni of St. Thomas, to be generous in their giving.”

At least $5 milliin of the gift has been earmarked as a challenge grant to the Catholic university’s alumni fund, which provides financial aid for students.

Schulze was raised in the St. Thomas neighborhood and attended Nativity of Our Lord School about a mile from the university’s campus  before graduating from St. Paul Central High School. He planned to enroll at St. Thomas after graduation, but instead served in the Minnesota Air National Guard and worked for his father’s electronics distribution company.

Best Buy is expected to have sales of $12.5 billion this fiscal year. It ranks among the top 200 U.S. companies on the Fortune 500 list.

Schulze serves on the executive and institutional advancement committees of the university’s board of trustees. Two of his four children attended the school.

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