Celebrating 10 years of support from the Dietrich Foundation – News
In September 2011, Trustee William S. Dietrich II surprised the Carnegie Mellon University community by announcing his intention to create a foundation(Opens in a new window) Upon his death, he would direct more than half of its annual philanthropic support to the university. The nature of the permanent annual support plan, which then amounted to $265 million, was truly exceptional. At the time, it was the largest gift to CMU and one of the 10 largest gifts to any American university.
Although Dietrich tragically passed away from cancer just one month later, his legacy as a visionary philanthropist and influential force in Carnegie Mellon’s success story lives on. Today, the campus community reflects on how 10 years of Dietrich-funded investments have shaped the university and strengthened its future.
A visionary will
Decades before his death, Dietrich had already begun to think about philanthropy, and committed to using his fortune for the greater good. He was inspired by the words of Carnegie Mellon University founder Andrew Carnegie: “The man who dies rich dies in shame.” Dietrich was also inspired by the mission and accomplishments of Carnegie Mellon University, which he witnessed firsthand as a Pittsburgh resident and trustee.
“This university puts Pittsburgh on the world map of great research cities. “Brilliant people come here as students and faculty, and their presence in our community adds something extraordinary,” Bill Dietrich answered when asked why Carnegie Mellon is such a special place. These super talents “attract companies like Google and Intel. They create new companies and new ideas. They add to the city’s vibrant artistic and cultural life. They have won Tony Awards, Oscars and Nobel Prizes. They never stop exploring. They never stop looking for a way to Better to do something, and they never stop working to make things better tomorrow than they are today.
In 1996, Dietrich donated the proceeds from the sale of his company, Dietrich Industries, to fund a charitable fund. When he died 15 years later, Dietrich’s trust fund increased to $500 million and eventually funded the Dietrich Foundation, which today supports 15 organizations including Carnegie Mellon University. These organizations are located, for the most part, in the area to which the businessman belongs in Western Pennsylvania.
“Bill put as much thought and effort into giving away his fortune as he did into creating it in the first place,” said Ed Griffinstedt, CEO and president of the Dietrich Foundation. “And for him, there was no greater opportunity than Carnegie Mellon University, which he wisely saw as a great engine for a region that just needed more fuel to go faster and farther.”