Students of international business at Chapman University will be enjoying the largess of the late Walter Schmid, an Orange County farmer and investor, for years to come.
Schmid, who died in February at age 93, endowed the university's Center for International Business with a $1.5-million gift, officials announced Monday.
The German-born philanthropist immigrated to the United States in 1911 and started farming in Garden Grove. He eventually made his fortune through agriculture and investments and gave to many civic organizations, joining Chapman's board of trustees in 1966. He became a lifetime trustee in 1987.
His gift will help build a new facility for the 3-year-old Center for International Business, officials said. The new building will carry Schmid's name.
But Schmid would probably have been more interested in the benefits the center will have for students, Chapman President Jim Doti said.
"He was not in this for the recognition or the plaques; he was in it for the students," Doti said. "He did not have much formal education himself, and it was as if he wanted others to have the opportunities he did not have."
Doti became friends with Schmid over the years and recalled the trustee providing many scholarships for students and asking administrators to alert him when students needed help.
Schmid's gift is one of five endowments of $1 million or more that the school has received in the past two years. But this is the first time the school has named a center, rather than a professorial chair, after a large endowment, Doti said.
The gift will be divided into two parts, with $500,000 providing additional income to the center, which is run by founding director Sir Eldon Griffiths, a global business expert and former member of the British Parliament. The remaining $1 million will go toward building the new facility, Doti said.