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This California B-School Just Got a Huge Donation

The University of San Diego (USD) has received a historic $50 million donation. The multi-million dollar gift, one of the largest in university history, will be used to build the Knauss Center for Business Education, but also to name The Knauss School of Business, named after the donors, USD Board Chairman Donald Knauss, the former CEO of Clorox, and his wife, Elli.

“This is our investment in educating ethical and compassionate business leaders — leaders who enable a free enterprise system that creates wealth on a fair and equitable playing field. Without the creation of wealth, no society can take care of its most vulnerable, lift the standards of living of its citizens or make the investments needed to preserve this planet for future generations,” Don Knauss, USD Board Chairman, says in a press release.

The donation by the Knauss family is significant among the historically largest gifts to B-schools. Chicago’s Booth School of Business topped the list with a historic $300 million gift from David Booth in 1997.


The Knauss donation will help fund the Knauss Center for Business Education, a new 120,000-square-foot building more than triple the size of the Knauss School of Business, scheduled to open in Fall 2022. The building will include a suite to help seed student startups, a student success center, production studio, finance lab, and theater.

“We believe that ethical and compassionate leadership in business or other fields is arguably the most powerful force in society,” USD President James T. Harris III says. “At USD, we believe a values-driven education, coupled with a commitment to free enterprise, gives us the means to deliver on our vision to care for and protect society for future generations.”

Tim Keane, dean of The Knauss School of Business, says the Knauss gift will play a critical role in supporting the school’s mission.

“Many business schools across the nation focus on graduating aspirational leaders,” Keane says. “At USD, however, our focus goes deeper, to the very heart of who we are as a Catholic institution. Our focus is on true stewardship — on caring for and protecting society, on using what we learn in the classroom and in the world for good. We are incredibly grateful to Don and Ellie for their generous gift and visionary leadership in support of our mission.”

Sources: University of San Diego, Times of San Diego, P&Q



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