Donor Scales Back Major Gift To University

July 31, 2009       Mark Hrywna      

Two and a half years after announcing the largest gift in school history, Florida Atlantic University (FAU) will have to settle for less than a third of the donation.

Citing the economic downturn, life insurance mogul Barry Kaye informed FAU officials on Monday that he would be unable to fulfill the $16-million pledge he made in January 2007, and instead will make a $5-million gift. The university renamed its College of Business for Barry and Carol Kaye after the $16-million pledge, which also was to establish an endowment to support academic programs, faculty and students.

Kaye, who made his fortune in insurance and has written more than a half-dozen books on the subject of insurance, has asked the university to remove his name from the college, according to multiple published reports. He will write one final $1 million check to complete the $5 million gift.

At the time of the announcement, it was the largest gift in school history and the university valued the total gift at $32 million because of eligibility for matching funds in the Florida Trust Fund for University Major Gifts. It was unclear what effect the reduced gift would have on that program.

The university only issued a statement regarding the Kaye gift: “Florida Atlantic University respects the confidentiality of our donors and the generous gifts they have bestowed upon this institution.  FAU does not publicly divulge the specifics of our gift agreements or discuss the details associated with the individuals who make these gifts.”

The initial donation established the Barry Kaye School of Finance, Insurance and Economics and the Barry Kaye Institute of Insurance in Philanthropy. The College of Business was renamed after Kaye increased the pledge to $16 million in 2007.

Barry and Carol Kaye’s name appears in more than a few places on the FAU campus. In 2006, the Kayes named the Carole and Barry Kaye ’05 Great Hall in the Marleen and Harold Forkas Alumni Center as a result of a $400,000 gift. A $500,000 donation to the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters’ School of the Arts established the Carole and Barry Kaye Endowed Fund in Integrative Arts Education and Outreach. And $85,000 was used to renovate the FAU Performing Arts Auditorium lobby, which also bears their names.

The Kayes also founded The Carole & Barry Kaye Museum of Miniatures in Los Angeles, which houses the largest collection of contemporary miniatures in the world.