Michael R. B. Uytengsu, who graduated from the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business in 1990, gave $4 million to his alma mater today (April 30).
The money will be used to create an endowed scholarship fund under his name. The school also will name the first floor of its new home for Marshall’s undergraduate program in his honor. “The education I received at Marshall gave me a strong foundation for success,” Michael Uytengsu said in a statement. “My family believes in the importance of giving back and in making a difference for students who are eager for an education but may not have the means to access it. If all USC alumni who own businesses would contribute a portion of their profits to the school, the students and the alumni would both benefit immensely.”
Originally an investment banker specializing in global infrastructure projects with Salomon Brothers in New York and then in Hong Kong, Uytengsu joined his family’s food business in 1993. Over the course of a highly successful career, he has orchestrated complex restructurings and roll-up transactions in the U.S. snack food industry, from the merger between Sunshine Biscuits and the Keebler Company to the formation of National Pretzel, which he sold to Con Agra Foods in 2011. Uytengsu’s recent ventures include HK Anderson pretzels and Somersault Snacks; he also is a founding partner of Tusk Estates, a luxury wine brand in Napa Valley.
CONSTRUCTION ON NEW UNDERGRADUATE BUILDING TO BEGIN IN MAY
The $4 million gift will increase USC Marshall’s ability to support high-achieving students and transform the School’s educational environment, facilitating more collaborative and technology-enabled learning experiences. With construction expected to begin this May and completion set for fall 2016, Fertitta Hall – to be located at the corner of Figueroa Street and Exposition Boulevard, within view of the University’s main entrance – will increase USC Marshall’s undergraduate student classroom capacity by close to one-third.
“Endowed scholarships ensure that we can attract talented students regardless of their financial situation, and the new building will enable undergraduate learning and research to flourish,” said James G. Ellis, dean of the USC Marshall School of Business, in a statement. “Michael’s dedication to supporting Marshall and its students will directly benefit our community for generations to come.”
Including brother Wilfred (Fred)’83, the Uytengsu family has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to philanthropic support of USC. A recent $8 million gift from Fred Uytengsu – the largest ever made to the athletics department by a former student-athlete – funded the Uytengsu Aquatics Center, providing a new home for the Trojan men’s and women’s swimming, diving and water polo teams. In 2013, the siblings received the Entrepreneurs of the Year and Alumni of the Year awards from USC Marshall’s Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.
At the ceremony, Michael Uytengsu announced his intention to donate one percent of the equity from his latest business venture, Somersault Snack Co., to USC. The gift is part of The Campaign for the University of Southern California, a multi-year effort to secure $6 billion or more in private support from individual donors, foundations and corporations. At the time of its launch, the campaign had the largest fundraising goal ever announced in higher education; to date, more than half that amount has already been raised.