SC Johnson and its CEO together donate $150 million to Cornell University

The Frank Lloyd Wright buildings at SC Johnson's headquarters in Racine.

Racine-based SC Johnson and its chief executive officer, Fisk Johnson, donated a combined total of $150 million to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, the company announced over the weekend.

The Frank Lloyd Wright buildings at SC Johnson's headquarters in Racine.
The Frank Lloyd Wright buildings at SC Johnson’s headquarters in Racine.

The money will support Cornell’s business school, which will now carry the name “Cornell SC Johnson College of Business.”

It’s the largest contribution Cornell University has received since it was founded in 1865.

“Cornell has been part of my family for more than a century,” Johnson said. “In 1918, my great-grandfather dispatched my grandfather to Cornell after one of the company’s products wreaked havoc on the Model T radiators it was designed to protect. So, our very first graduate chemist, my grandfather, attended Cornell, and today Cornell has one of the top business schools where the company regularly recruits many talented graduates.”

Included in the contribution was a $50 million challenge grant to support the university’s endowment. Cornell is expected to raise an additional $150 million for its endowment.

The Johnson family has a long history of enrollment and financial contributions at Cornell University. Fisk Johnson, along with his siblings Curt Johnson, Helen Johnson-Leipold and Winnie Johnson Marquart each attended Cornell, as did their parents, Sam and Gene Johnson, and their grandfather H.F. Johnson, Jr.

One of Fisk Johnson’s great-grandparents, Olaf Brauner, taught at Cornell for 40 years beginning in 1896, and founded the university’s Department of Art.

In addition to the $150 million contribution this year, the Johnson Family has made eight other major contributions to Cornell over the years.

“It is my hope that this gift will give the business program at Cornell significant new impetus for growth, while enhancing its three individual schools and the qualities that make each exceptional,” Johnson said. “While the naming of the school by Cornell is an honor, this isn’t about me or my family. It’s about Cornell’s future as the country’s top business school, and the success of the three highly respected schools that comprise it.”

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Ben Stanley, former BizTimes Milwaukee reporter.

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