A Real Estate Mogul's Deep Ties to a State and a University Drive a Major Gift

Hawaii real estate mogul Jay Shidler is one of the richest men in the 50th state, with a net worth around $700 million according to WealthX. Shidler is the founder of the Honolulu-based Shidler Group, which has acquired more than 2,000 properties across the country and in Canada. The company recently acquired a Fairfield Inn & Suites in Midtown Manhattan for close to $70 million.

Shidler has also made recent headlines with a $69 million pledge to his alma mater, the University of Hawaii, and its Shidler School of Business. And herein lies another story of how proximity to both a place and an institution, along with a very specific interest (in this case business education), can converge to yield serious alumni money. 

Shidler started pumping streams of money toward the school back in 2006, and his initial $25 million pledge coincided with UHawaii naming the school after him. Shidler's recent committment brings his total giving to UHawaii to $100 million.

Don't worry if you've been clueless about Jay Shidler or his outsized generosity, since most 48ers rarely give Hawaii a passing thought, even though the current U.S. president was born there. On the other hand, Hawaiians are huge boosters of their state, and for some obvious reasonslike year-round balmy weather. 

Among the many mainlanders who've come to Hawaii and never looked back is Jay Shidler, whose ties to the school and state run deep. Born in Pasadena, he received his BBA from UHawaii in 1968, where his thesis served as the basis for a successful condo project. (Shidler's younger brother also went to the school.) After graduation, he began writing a column for a prominent Hawaii business publication. After serving in the army, he returned to Honolulu to found Shidler Group.

Shidler has given to the Contemporary Museum in Honolulu, the Young Men's Christian Association of Honolulu, YMCA Honolulu and the University of Hawaii Foundation. He also runs a small family foundation called the Shilder Family Foundation. 

Shidler's story is one of loyalty and dedication both to his alma mater and the greater Honolulu area. While warm weather and luaus might serve as an initial draw to the state, Shidler could have quit the island after college and founded his company in say, New York or Chicago. Instead, he shirked the mainland and stayed put.

The particulars of the gift also offer a few important lessons. For one, Shidler has said that he was encouraged by the way UHawaii used his past gifts, which motivated him to give even more this time. This bears emphasizing: Smaller giving can lead to even bigger giving down the line, especially once a monied alumnus like Shilder is convinced that his money is making an impact.

Another interesting part of the gift is that it includes "leased fees," that is, shares of income generated by land underlying Shilder Group properties, among them a Denver commercial office building. According to University of Hawaii Foundation President and CEO Donna Vuchinich, income generated from leased fees are an ideal form of income to help build an endowment.

It's something that Shidler hopes will catch on across the University of Hawaii system. Columbia University, for instance, owns land under Rockefeller Center. 

Other leased fees under Shidler-owned properties might also become part of the gift which would make perfect sense for this real estate mogul.