April 11, 2006

Alumnus donates $5 million

University alumnus Bernard DelGiorno donated $5 million toward student life at the U of C.

The announcement came Friday evening during a reception that featured University administrators and various student group leaders.

The gift will help pay for lighting for night games at Stagg Field and will support construction of the new Center for the Creative and Performing Arts and the new 900-student residence hall south of the Midway. In honor of the contribution, a house in the new dorm will be named after DelGiorno.

The Wall Street Journal also featured DelGiorno’s contribution in its regular “Gift of the Week” column, which recognizes private giving to higher education and charitable causes.

The gift marks DelGiorno’s second contribution to the University. DelGiorno contributed $3 million of the $51 million needed for the Ratner Athletic Center, and the facility’s second-floor observation deck and fitness center bear his name.

“Bernie is a citizen of the community,” said Steve Klass, vice president and dean of students in the University. “He is always involved with what’s happening on campus.”

John Boyer, dean of the College, said he was particularly grateful for DelGiorno’s commitment to addressing larger issues facing students.

“He has offered internships with students and stronger resources for student life and has helped advise students with their careers,” Boyer said. “He is a leader amongst the college alumni.”

President Don Randel introduced DelGiorno as both a personal acquaintance and a familiar face in the Hyde Park community.

DelGiorno, A.B. ’54, A.B. ’55, M.B.A. ’55, a Hyde Park resident who has lived on Woodlawn Avenue for nearly 40 years, has balanced his career as first vice president of investments at UBS Financial Services with positions in various University organizations. DelGiorno serves as Chair of the Alumni Emeriti Committee—a group of alumni that have already celebrated their 50th college reunion—and is also Life Member of the Visiting Committee on the College and Student Activities.

An active financial contributor to the College Dean’s Fund, the Graduate School of Business, and the President’s Fund, DelGiorno has focused most of his efforts on helping to improve the University’s athletic facilities.

“I have long felt that the University needed to expand the social, athletic, and recreational facilities and programs on campus,” DelGiorno said in an interview for Chicago Initiative, the University’s fundraising drive. “As a regular user of the athletic facilities and an attendee at varsity and Intramural sport events, I perceive these as areas of particular need.”

The Friday evening reception focused on the broader implications of DiGiorno’s latest gift to the University. Boyer said DelGiorno’s contribution also marks the first major gift for the new arts center.

“Over the years there were many areas that needed to be improved,” DelGiorno said, making a reference to student comfort and student life.

“I saw a need to get involved,” he added.

DelGiorno said he received “a string of e-mails” from recent U of C graduates, many of whom he did not know personally, who expressed their commitment to giving back to the University as well.

“This is a spirit that I hadn’t observed much in the past,” he said. “I was happy that these people were interested in doing things for [the University] after they graduate.”

DelGiorno directed his concluding remarks toward the students in attendance at the reception. “Now I hope to see people staying until 11 or 12 at night practicing in Stagg Field,” he said, referencing the new lighting his contribution will fund and drawing laughter from the crowd.

On a more serious note, DelGiorno reflected on what he hopes the gift can accomplish for extracurricular enrichment for current students.

“These students will be running the world in the future,” DelGiorno said. “Some of these diversions are worthwhile.”