Couple makes $9 million gift to University of Cincinnati

$5 million of gift supports diversity and inclusion

Richard and Cornelia Thornburgh

CINCINNATI – Dec. 2, 2019 – Richard (Dick) E. Thornburgh, Bus ’74, Hon ’09, a longtime leader in the financial services industry, and his wife Cornelia have made a $9 million gift to the University of Cincinnati. This significant commitment includes a focus on diversity and inclusion through scholarships and support for the Carl H. Lindner College of Business and UC Athletics.

The Thornburghs’ gift supports the priorities of UC and UC Health’s comprehensive fundraising effort, Next, Now: The Campaign for Cincinnati.

Dick, who earned his MBA from Harvard University, is the former vice chairman of the Board of Directors of Credit Suisse Group AG. He is a senior advisor and serves on the Investment Committee of Corsair Capital LLC.

Dick credits attending UC and being a student-athlete with giving him the discipline, focus and sacrifice needed to succeed in the professional world. His collegiate athletics experiences, business acumen and being a father to three daughters have bolstered Dick’s belief that all students, including female athletes, should have an equal opportunity to excel in their careers and in their lives.

The Thornburghs’ gift includes a $5.5 million investment in two programs at the Lindner College of Business: Business Fellows and Lindner Honors-PLUS. The $5.5 million gift is broken down below:

  • Their $500,000 pledge for the Dick and Cornelia Thornburgh Business Diversity Scholarship Fund benefits Business Fellows, which is dedicated to supporting African American, Hispanic, Latino and Native American students enrolled in Lindner. The fund also will receive an estimated $4 million from the Thornburghs’ estate.
  • As an early investor in Lindner Honors-PLUS, the Thornburghs are continuing their legacy of support for the program by investing $1 million in an additional estate gift.

These commitments demonstrate the Thornburghs’ passion for advancing diversity in business, which they say makes for a stronger workforce.

“You want to get the best possible people to succeed, therefore you need to get a wider net,” Dick said. “If you look at the corporations in Cincinnati that are hiring, they want to have a diverse workforce. As a university, we should provide them with the best product we can, students that can grow to be capable leaders in the business and nonprofit fields.”

Going back to his student days as a Bearcat mascot and as the driver in the creation of the UC men’s varsity soccer team, Dick also is passionate about UC Athletics. The Thornburghs have made a $2 million investment from their estate to ensure the vitality of the men’s soccer program at UC.

Part of their overall $9 million gift also includes a pledge of $300,000 for UC’s groundbreaking Women’s Excellence Fund. This initiative provides needed funding for nutrition, recovery tools, special equipment, facility enhancements and more to lift the level of competitive excellence for UC’s 11 women’s sports programs and spirit squads.

“Athletics have historically been a means for men to break out of their social economic background, and it should be for women as well,” Dick, the Women’s Excellence Fund’s first male donor, said. “Women’s athletics have been underfunded.”

As part of their overall gift, the Thornburghs’ are empowering more students in UC Athletics with a diversity-focused scholarship fund. The Dick and Cornelia Thornburgh Scholarship for Diverse Student Athletes Majoring in Business Fund has been established with $200,000; 25 percent of UC’s current student-athletes are business majors.

Throughout his time at UC, Dick was involved in a variety of organizations including Sigma Sigma, a UC men’s honorary organization that recognizes students who have made significant contributions to the university. The impact of Sigma Sigma never left Dick and has led to an estate gift of $1 million to the program.

“Dick and Cornie’s vision for our students and the business community exemplifies how we’re focusing on innovation and impact,” said UC President Neville G. Pinto. “They have a local and global view with a clear focus on inclusive excellence. We are so grateful these dedicated donors are providing the university with this transformative gift.”

Attending UC was not in Dick’s original plan. He was nominated to the United States Air Force Academy and recruited to play soccer. His dreams of being a pilot were put aside because he did not have 20/20 vision, and his older brother mentioned that the city’s most successful leaders attended UC.

After enrolling, Dick embraced the university, and it embraced him. He pledged a fraternity, played on the men’s soccer team, became involved with student government, serving as student body vice president. He was also the Bearcat mascot which, at that time, including wearing a papier-mâché head.

“I wouldn’t be sitting here if someone didn’t help me,” Dick said. “Without the experiences and help along the way, I never would have succeeded in anything, and it’s a chance to give back.”

“Not only have Dick and Cornie given back to UC with this gift and others, they have long given their time to our beloved alma mater,” said UC Foundation President Peter Landgren, CCM ’78. “Dick is a recipient of the Lindner and William Howard Taft medals and has worked personally with our students, served on search and investment committees and shared his valuable insight. He exemplifies what it means to be a Bearcat. I believe Dick and Cornie will be models to others to return to their alma mater what UC gave to them—a life and career of possibilities.”

 

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About Next, Now: The Campaign for Cincinnati
With its focus on innovation and impact, Next, Now: The Campaign for Cincinnati is where ambition meets action. As the comprehensive fundraising campaign for the University of Cincinnati and UC Health, the Next, Now Campaign will raise at least $2 billion for scholarships and graduate fellowships, research, the health and well-being of our region, and the signature programs and initiatives unique to UC and UC Health.

About the University of Cincinnati Foundation
Established in 1975, the University of Cincinnati Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation and the private sector fundraising entity for the University of Cincinnati and UC Health. The Foundation supports UC’s aspirations through philanthropic collaboration with the colleges, the Academic Health Center, UC Health and other units to maximize private support. The Foundation’s advancement efforts promote the development of productive, enduring relationships with alumni, friends, colleagues, students, foundations, corporations and the Greater Cincinnati community. For more information, please visit foundation.uc.edu.