While being treated for brain cancer in 2009, my friend Jackie and her family were well served by the Richard M. Schulze American Cancer Society Hope Lodge. It's a well-appointed, comforting home away from home for cancer patients at University of Minnesota Medical Center/Fairview.
That personal connection with the generosity of Best Buy's founder gave me reason to cheer Monday's news that there will soon be more where that came from. The decision of Dick and Maureen Schulze to donate roughly half of their personal fortune to the foundation bearing their name is very good news. Proceeds from the foundation's investments will be put to use for learning and healing, much of it in connection with medical research at the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic.
Though -- regrettably -- the Schulzes now consider themselves Floridians, their soon-to-be $1 billion foundation is Minnesota grown. And it will be led by a very able Minnesotan, Mark Dienhart. He's been a standout as executive vice president and chief operating officer of the University of St. Thomas, where his work has included oversight of a $515 million capital campaign. Among that campaign's leading donors were Richard and Maureen Schulze.
The Schulzes' announcement about their philanthropic intentions ranks them in good Minnesota company, regardless of their current address. From the 19th century forward, successful entrepreneurs named Pillsbury, Crosby, Cargill, Dayton, McKnight, Bush and more have diverted sizeable shares of their personal fortunes to the public good. Those gifts have given Minnesota an advantage over many other states in a variety of ways that add up to better quality of life.
Minnesotans have come to expect robust philanthropy of those who succeed here. But such giving ought never be taken for granted. The Schulzes are owed this state's thanks.
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