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A Harvard MBA Gives UCLA $25 Million

A bust of alumnus John Anderson outside UCLA's business school pays tribute to his near $49 million in donations.

UCLA’s Anderson School of Management received the largest donation in its history today (April 25), a $25-million gift from Harvard MBA John Anderson, a Los Angeles entrepreneur, and his wife, Marion.

The school already bears Anderson’s name after a 1987 donation from him of $15 million, then the largest gift by an individual to that institution. This latest gift brings the total amount of donations from the Andersons to UCLA’s business school to almost $42 million.

Although Anderson got his MBA from Harvard, he received his undergraduate degree in business from UCLA in 1940. The Anderson’s sons, William and John Jr., also completed their J.D. and M.B.A. degrees, respectively, at UCLA, and their daughter, Judy Munzig, serves on the board of the Harold and Pauline Price Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at UCLA Anderson.

All told, the Andersons $49 million in donations to UCLA’s B-school ranks among some of the largest gifts to a business school ever. A record was set three years ago when David Booth gave $300 million to the B-school at University to Chicago which renamed the place the Booth School of Business. Booth, a 1971 Chicago MBA, built his investment firm, Dimensional Fund Advisors on principles he learned from Eugene Fama at the school. Before Booth’s gift, the largest gift to a business school was $105 million, given to Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business in 2006 by Philip H. Knight, founder and chairman of Nike. Other large gifts to business schools include $100 million to the University of Michigan in 2004 from Stephen M. Ross, $100 million to Columbia Business School by Henry Kravis last October, $85 million to the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 2007 from a combined partnership of 13 alumni, and $60 million to the Darden School at the University of Virginia from Frank Batten Sr., retired chairman and chief executive of Landmark Communications.

“This remarkable gift will enable us to chart the future by investing in a broad range of strategic initiatives, including research that advances management thinking and practice, curriculum initiatives that prepare our students to become global leaders, and student support that attracts the most talented candidates from around the world,” UCLA Anderson Dean Judy Olian said in a statement.

Anderson’s fortune owes its origins to an exclusive distributorship in the mid-1950s for Budweiser beer in Los Angles. He also is the owner of Topa Equities, a privately held company based in Los Angeles with dealings that include real estate and beer distribution.

“I was very lucky to come to UCLA on a scholarship, and I’ve never forgotten that,” Anderson said in the statement. “The lessons and values I learned while attending UCLA shaped my thinking … and helped build my business reputation.”

The Andersons’ previous donations have established two professorships in their name and helped fund a building for the graduate business school.