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'55 UT grad gives $4M to college of business



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A University of Toledo alumnus who already has given $1.5 million to his alma mater is investing an additional $4 million in the school.

John Neff, who has been named one of the 10 greatest investors of the 20th century in a survey of financial professionals, is giving the money to the university's business college that will provide for an endowed faculty chair.

The gift will be announced at 10 a.m. today in Stranahan Hall on UT's main campus where Mr. Neff, who lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Lillian, will be present.

Mr. Neff, 75, graduated from UT in 1955 with a degree in industrial marketing. He spent only two years at the school, having transferred credits he received while in the Navy. But that time made a lasting impression on the man who spent his boyhood in Michigan and teenage years in Texas.

"I kind of blossomed at the University of Toledo, and you owe something back when you do something reasonably well," Mr. Neff said.

The $4 million gift will be directed to the university's department of finance and half will endow a faculty chair.

It will be the first faculty chair in the college of business administration. There are about a dozen endowed chairs throughout the university.

"The prestige the Neff chair can give ... is incalculable," said Thomas Gutteridge, dean of UT's business college. "It really helps to jump the program that's involved."

Mr. Gutteridge said they hope to have an endowed chair on board by fall of 2009 - a person who is involved in teaching, a research leader, a mentor to junior faculty, and engages the business community.

Mr. Neff earned his mark in the finance world by managing the Vanguard's huge Windsor Fund for more than 30 years with Wellington Management, where he had become a managing partner. He retired 11 1/2 years ago, but he still has an office.

"It's the ultimate ball game, and I still enjoy it," he said. "It's fun. Obviously, it's more fun when you win."

UT President Lloyd Jacobs said Mr. Neff's gift carries out the university's mission of making the human condition better and that it will be transformative.

"Mr. Neff's gift is a remarkable confirmation of the power of education to transform individual lives and the lives of other people," Dr. Jacobs said.

"His recognition of that through this gift makes me proud and gives me great pleasure."

Mr. Neff gave $1 million to UT in 2004 to help fund the John B. and Lillian Neff Trading Floor, which is an interactive learning lab with computers and software that gives students access to financial data from around the world.

The couple also has given $500,000 to establish UT's Neff Scholars Jump Start program, which supports freshman business students.

Mr. Neff is among the university's highest contributing alumni and his most recent gift puts the university at about $76 million toward its $100 million capital campaign, said Vern Snyder, UT's vice president for institutional advancement.

"He's a brilliant man," Mr. Snyder said, adding that Mr. Neff made the most of his opportunities at the school.

"The University of Toledo is a place where folks get their start."

Mr. Neff has an MBA from what is now Case Western Reserve University.

He began his career as a securities analyst for National City Bank and also was a director at Chrysler Corp. when it merged into DaimlerChrysler AG in 1998.

In 1999, Mr. Neff wrote a book, John Neff on Investing.

Contact Meghan Gilbert at:

or 419-724-6134.

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