Carlson donations amount to $46.5 million

by Kane Loukas

The University has another 10 million reminders of why its business school carries the name of Curtis L. Carlson.
The Carlson School of Management announced Friday that it received a $10 million gift on behalf of the late Curt Carlson and the Carlson Family Foundation, bringing the total gifts from the Carlsons to $46.5 million.
Carlson was founder and joint-CEO of Carlson Companies, a Minnetonka-based travel and hospitality company. He graduated from the University in 1937 with an economics degree and later went on to become his alma mater’s greatest benefactor and an instrumental player in the establishment of the Carlson school. When Carlson died earlier this year at the age of 83, his $1.7 billion personal fortune was the largest in Minnesota.
About $2 million of this latest donation will be used in support of the new University Gateway Alumni and Visitor Center located in Stadium Village.
The remaining $8 million portion will be turned into an endowment for the Carlson school. Once invested, it will yield about $440,000 annually. It was Carlson’s intention that this extra influx of capital would act as a sort of finishing touch on the school and bump it higher in the national rankings. The Carlson school graduate program currently stands at 26th according to the latest U.S. News and World Reports ranking.
“Curt wanted another gift to go toward pushing the school over the top and get more programs into the top 20,” said David Kidwell, dean of the Carlson school and close friend of the Carlson family.
Kidwell, who will directly oversee the endowment, plans to initially concentrate the resources on scholarships for MBA students and faculty recruiting. In this respect, the funds will be used in a way similar to Carlson’s previous gifts: to bolster the business school by attracting the best student and faculty talent.
In a break from business as usual, Kidwell also plans on putting some of the money into publicizing and marketing the school.
“One of the things that we feel has hurt us historically is that we haven’t done a good job marketing,” Kidwell said. But with the Carlson school’s popularity growing in leaps and bounds, and with many of its individual programs ranked higher than ever, Kidwell decided that “now we’re going to start singing our praises.”
This latest gift follows on the heels of several major gifts from the Carlson family, most of which were centered on the business school that was named for Curt Carlson in 1986 following an $18 million donation.
Carlson had agreed to make this latest donation last year, but an announcement was held off on account of his failing health. The Carlson foundation chose this past Friday for the announcement because it follows the 61st anniversary of the Carlson Company’s founding on June 8, 1938.
In addition to the $10 million, friends and relatives of Carlson donated more than $71,000 to the school in his memory. The University will honor the contributions in a ceremony on Sept. 27.