Huge windfall for Furman – Higher education landmark

In one of the biggest gifts ever to a college or university, a textile executive who died last week bequeathed nearly half his estate to Furman University in Greenville, S.C., The New York Times reported Jan. 4.

While the donation’s exact value is not clear, the small liberal arts school will get 45 percent of the holdings of John D. Hollingsworth, 83, who attended Furman for one year only, the Times said.

The estate includes the annual profits from his company, John D. Hollingsworth on Wheels Inc., plus roughly 40,000 acres of prime real estate in South Carolina valued at about $400 million.

Hollingsworth gave 10 percent of his estate to the local YMCA, a donation that will dwarf the group’s $8 million annual budget, and left the rest to local charities.

He set aside $250,000 for the education of his six grandchildren, but only for four undergraduate years each, and only at schools whose costs don’t exceed Furman’s.

Furman, which will use the funds for scholarships, professorships and maintenance, has an endowment of about $260 million and annual budget of $70 million.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy says the largest gifts to universities since 1967 include $350 million over 20 years to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2000; $300 million in Vanderbilt University in 19998; and $295 million to Emory University in 1996.

Eight charitable gifts of $100 million or more were made last year, the Chronicle says.

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