Another Policy Gift From A Donor Keen On Higher Education

Dwight C. Schar and his wife Martha are active philanthropists in the Mid Atlantic, and last year were among Washington Life Magazine's Philanthropic 50. Some of the other names on this list were associated with private equity giant Carlyle Group. As for Schar, he's behind regional homebuilding giant NVR. Last year, I wrote about the couple's large $50 million gift to Inova Health System in Virginia. In 2014, meanwhile, the family pledged $12 million to Elon University in North Carolina. The Schars are Elon parents. Away from the region, Schar has also steadily supported his own alma mater Ashland University in Ohio. 

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Supporting higher education certainly appears to be a top priority of this couple, and often this work has some sort of personal thread. Consider George Mason University, another school in the orbit of Washington that the Schars support. Schar was a trustee of the GMU foundation's board of trustees for over a decade. In addition, his daughter graduated from the school and is on its board of visitors. In 2002, Schar and Martha established an endowed faculty chair for the public policy school with a $1 million gift. They've also supported GMU's Center for Regional Analysis over the years. 

In light of all of this, now comes news of a recent $10 million gift from Schar and Martha to George Mason University's School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs. In recognition of the gift, the university will rename the school in his honor. Of the gift, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said, "Mason has steadily grown its influence in the world of policy and government, showing Northern Virginia can be both a starting point and a destination for people who want to serve and make a difference." 

As we've reported about here at Inside Philanthropy, many donors are keen on supporting policy schools on campus these days. Chalk it up to political fracturing at home, war abroad, and economic instability around the world. It's easy to see how a university in close proximity to the nation's capital would be prime for this kind of work. The school's faculty includes the former head of the CIA. 

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It's worth noting how the Schars' gift builds on previous support to GMU. That gift all the way back in 2002 created an endowed faculty chair in public policy. Now, years later, the Schars' are deepening this interest area. The fact that Schar's daughter attended the school and is on the board of visitors likely helped keep the school in the family's orbit.