Gift of the Week - Science Prize
January 20, 2006
The Wall Street Journal
WHO GAVE IT: Ginger and John Giovale, of Flagstaff, Ariz.
WHO GOT IT: Westminster College, Salt Lake City.
HOW MUCH: $10 million, to be paid over five years.
BY REQUEST: The gift will help build a 60,000-square-foot science center and endow a professorship in science.
HOW IT HAPPENED: Mr. and Mrs. Giovale met at the "Hello Dance" during freshman orientation at Westminster in 1961. At the time, Mrs. Giovale (then Ginger Gore) was the third generation in her family to attend Westminster -- her parents, Bill and Vieve Gore, met there, too. The Gores had founded W.L. Gore & Associates in 1958 in their basement in Delaware to insulate wires for use in computers. In 1971, the Gores' son Bob invented Gore-Tex, a fluoropolymer, or Teflon-like, material that is used to manufacture waterproof clothing, electronics and medical devices.
Mrs. Giovale majored in math at Westminster, while Mr. Giovale studied pre-engineering there. Afterward, Mr. Giovale worked for the family company for many years, heading its medical-products division before retiring in 2000.
The family has a long history of supporting, and donating to, Westminster: Mrs. Giovale has been a trustee for 29 years and is now the board's chairwoman, and the library and business school are already named for family members. The new gift is the largest the school has ever received. Of the total, $8 million will help build a new science center, with 14 labs, four classrooms, a student lounge, faculty offices, a greenhouse and rooftop garden. The remaining $2 million will endow a professorship in science.