This November, South Jersey name brand Lewis Katz announced an unexpected and stipulation-free $25 million to Temple University at an awards dinner. Katz was in attendance to receive the 2013 Musser Award for Excellence in Leadership: "Temple's highest honor for outstanding achievement, leadership and commitment to the community by a distinguished member of industry," according to the university’s site.
A former part owner of New Jersey Nets, sports fans nicknamed Katz the "Jersey Devil" in the mid 2000s for backing a deal to sell the team to Brooklyn at a 200% mark-up. This was after he spent years up-talking his desire to give back to the state in which he grew up. To be fair about it, he did make good on the promise in some regards. Katz founded a chapter of the Boys and Girls Club in Philadelphia, and opened 2 charter schools in Camden.
He made his fortune as co-founder of a South Jersey based law firm called Katz, Ettin & Levine, and forays in the billboard and parking industries and is now a managing partner of Interstate General Media, parent company of The Inquirer, Philly.com and The Daily News.
Katz earned his bachelor's degree in 1963 and then a JD from Penn State in 1996, serves on Penn State's board of trustees, gave them $15 million for the construction of 2 new buildings to house the university’s law school 2009.
Historically, Katz has been active in local politics and has supported democrats like Jim Florio, Ed Rendell, and Arlen Specter. He has also given money to larger organizations Democratic National Committee and a Super PAC called End the Gridlock, according to Politicalmoneyline.com.
Under Lewis's direction, the Katz Foundation gives grants in the sub-million dollar range to Jewish affiliated causes in the South Jersey area such Congregation Beth El of Vorhees. He also endowed a professorship at Columbia University and gives $275,000 a year to award the Katz Prizes in Cardiovascular Research.
In terms of geography, Katz has "never strayed too far from his rowhouse roots in Camden,” according to a 2012 Inquirer piece. Now in his 70s, it's difficult to imagine him changing that policy any time soon. This perhaps makes him a good bet for development staff at other Philadelphia and South Jersey area universities.
Philadelphia's Museum of the American Revolution also recently elected him to their board, which makes them another likely recipient of funding from Katz.