Leslie Wexner and Limited Brands Foundation today announced one of the largest philanthropic gifts ever made to a public university. The $100 million commitment includes $65 million from Wexner and $35 million from Limited Brands Foundation. The gift will primarily benefit The Ohio State University Medical Center and The Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute. It will also benefit Ohio State's Wexner Center for the Arts and select other university initiatives.
"But for Ohio State," Wexner stated, "I would have never been able to go to college. I love Ohio State, and all the good it does. I hope this gift stimulates those who have received an education here, or been touched by this remarkable institution, to think about how they, too, can give back."
With today's announcement, the Wexner family and Limited Brands Foundation have given, raised or pledged nearly $200 million to Ohio State. The Wexner family's prior contributions to the university have exceeded $35 million. With today's commitment, they now exceed $100 million. Additionally, Limited Brands Foundation's aggregate giving, including today's announcement, exceeds $45 million. Limited Brands has also raised nearly $50 million for The Wexner Center for the Arts.
"Through his life's work, and this most exceptional and unprecedented gift, Les Wexner has created an enduring legacy," said Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee. "He is an outstanding example of the transformational power of public higher education. His commitment to the University - in time, wisdom, and leadership - has been just as important as his financial generosity. And I like what he said: ‘But for Ohio State, none of this could have happened.' I believe that, and I know Les does too. I would ask each of us to think how our lives would be different ‘But for Ohio State'."
"Ohio State is our most important asset. It touches the entire community, not just students and alumni," said Abigail Wexner. "Everyone is impacted by the university. From the families whose loved ones are being treated at The James, to families like ours who've made football Saturdays a tradition, Ohio State is an ongoing part of all our lives."
Wexner is a 1959 graduate of Ohio State. He is in his second term on The Ohio State University Board of Trustees, where he is serving as chairman. He was also a founding member of The Ohio State University Foundation, and its first chairman.
Wexner has long been considered one of America's greatest philanthropists. Over the past 25 years, he has personally given over $500 million to philanthropic causes. The majority of his philanthropy has been focused on educating the next generation of leaders through the programs of The Wexner Foundation. In addition, he has made substantial gifts to the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University, Nationwide Children's Hospital, The Columbus Jewish Federation, and a multitude of other philanthropic organizations.
"I've always believed that you have to do good while doing well," said Wexner. "It's not enough to succeed in business. You have to give back. Ohio State's Medical Center and The James do critically important work. My hope is this gift can help save lives, and maybe even help to cure cancer. It is certainly within our grasp."
"Les has truly lived the American dream," Gee said. "He came from humble origins, with immigrant parents who worked hard every day of their lives. And he went on to succeed beyond anyone's imagination. He has done so much for this community, for this University, for us all. He is a great example of what can be achieved through hard work, determination, and a generous spirit. I am proud to call him my friend."
At a 1986 commencement, Wexner received an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree. In his remarks to graduating seniors he said, "My relationship with this institution will never end."