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September 29, 2011

Dietrich donates $125 million to Pitt

dietrich bannerLast week Pitt announced that alumnus and trustee William S. Dietrich II plans to give a $125 million trust fund to support the University, the largest individual gift in Pitt’s history and one of the 10 largest gifts made by an individual to a public university in the United States. The fund will become operational upon Dietrich’s death.

In recognition of the gift, a resolution will be introduced at the Oct. 28 meeting of Pitt’s Board of Trustees to rename the School of Arts and Sciences the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences in honor of Dietrich’s father, who died in 1984.

Dietrich, 73, earned both his MA and his PhD in political science at Pitt. He has been a member of Board of Trustees since 1991 and served as the board’s chairperson from 2001 to 2003. He also has served as the chair of the board’s audit, investment and conflict of interest committees.

In commenting on the gift, Dietrich said, “As a graduate who personally benefitted from my own studies at Pitt, I want to ensure that the University can continue to provide educational opportunities of the highest quality to its undergraduate and graduate students. As a citizen of southwestern Pennsylvania, I want to help secure the future of one of this region’s most important institutions and hope that this gift will encourage others to join with me in supporting the University. And as someone who has seen Pitt’s transformation into a national and international force in higher education from the special vantage point of a trustee, I want to recognize the extraordinary progress that has been made by the University, particularly during Mark Nordenberg’s 16-year tenure as chancellor.”

In announcing the gift, Nordenberg said, “There … is something special about receiving such an extraordinary gift from one of Pitt’s favorite people. Speaking personally, Bill has been both a good friend and an inspiring role model to me. Within our board he is known for his focused commitment to academic excellence, and within the broader community of business and civic leaders, he is known as a person who will tirelessly undertake virtually any assignment if it will contribute to the betterment of our home region.”

N. John Cooper, the Bettye J. and Ralph E. Bailey Dean of Arts and Sciences, said, “This transformative gift from Mr. Dietrich will let us advance our goal of being a world-recognized center for the generation of knowledge by our faculty, within and across disciplines, and for transmitting that knowledge to succeeding generations of undergraduates and graduate students.”

After graduating from Prince-ton in 1960, Dietrich served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves before joining Dietrich Industries, the company his father founded.

Dietrich transformed the company from a small steel warehouse and distribution business into the nation’s largest manufacturer of light metal framing for the construction industry. In 1996, Worthington Industries bought Dietrich Industries.

Dietrich is the author of two books: “In the Shadow of the Rising Sun: The Political Roots of American Economic Decline” and “Eminent Pittsburghers: Profiles of the City’s Founding Industrialists,” a collection of essays.

In addition to his service on the Pitt board, he has served on the boards of Carnegie Mellon, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, Chatham, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, the Pittsburgh Symphony Society, the Southwestern Pennsylvania Growth Alliance, UPMC Health System and the Greater Pittsburgh Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

The source of the Dietrich gift is The Dietrich Charitable Trusts, which are charitable remainder trusts created by Dietrich that own assets principally generated by the 1996 sale of Dietrich Industries. It is anticipated that upon Dietrich’s death, the assets of these trusts will fund a new charitable organization, The Dietrich Foundation, which will administer the fund benefitting Pitt.

The Dietrich gift takes Pitt’s $2 billion capital campaign past the $1.85 billion mark.

Dietrich recently gave Carnegie Mellon $265 milllion, the 14th-largest private gift to higher education, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Filed under: Feature,Volume 44 Issue 3

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