Jeff Barnett / Lantern photographer
Leslie Wexner and the Limited Brands Foundation announced a donation of $100 million to Ohio State early Wednesday morning. This donation is the largest philanthropic gift in OSU history.
Wexner and OSU President E. Gordon Gee discussed the donation with students and other OSU community members Wednesday in the U.S. Bank Conference Theatre in the Ohio Union. Additional students were redirected to view the announcement at a remote location in the Union.
Wexner and Gee were welcomed by more than 300 people with a 30-second standing ovation. In an intimate setting with students, Wexner discussed responsibility, leadership, and what the university means to him.
“We all have a responsibility to the community. What struck me after I graduated from The Ohio State University was that it was there before I began and would be there after I left,” Wexner said. “We all have a responsibility to ourselves to live useful and productive lives, ethical lives, moral lives, to do the right thing.”
In an e-mail sent by Gee to the OSU community early Wednesday morning, Wexner, a 1959 OSU alumnus and current Board of Trustees chair, said OSU is the “most important institution in our community.”
Gee said the gift is “a transformative moment in the history of this university.”
“This is a magnificent gift in and of itself. The impact that it will have just by itself is enormous,” Gee said in a recorded message to students. “But the impact that it will have on so many other people and so many other facets of the university and of the community and beyond, the fact that someone who was so thoughtful and so purposeful would invest in our university, gives everyone else confidence.”
On Aug. 14, 2001, The Lantern reported that Michael E. Moritz donated the largest single gift ever made to the law school and to OSU with a $30 million donation in July of that year.
Wexner, currently the chairman and CEO of the Limited Brands Inc., said this gift, on top of previous gifts he and his corporation made, is responsible for $200 million.
“I’m particularly pleased because the personal part of this gift brings our total family giving to $100 million,” Wexner said. “Coincidentally, the amount of money the business is giving and raised for the university is $100 million.”
The money will be used primarily for the OSU Medical Center, the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute and the Wexner Center for the Arts, according to OSU’s announcement of the donation.
Wexner said he hopes that with this money, OSU researchers will be able to change the world and find a cure for cancer.
“We can do it here. We can do it now,” Wexner said in the announcement. “There is no utility in saying maybe.”
Gee said working with Wexner has been one of the great privileges in his life.
“(Wexner is) a person whose moral force combines seamlessly with vast intellectual capital, imagination and ingenuity,” Gee said in the e-mail.
“Today, we celebrate Les Wexner’s commitment to this University, to his unwavering optimism in the power of public education and to the unassailable truth that is the American Dream,” Gee said.