Fiftieth Anniversary Grants

Dyson Foundation Awards $28 Million to Celebrate its 50th Anniversary

January 31, 2007

Theresa Gill

To celebrate and commemorate its 50 years of grantmaking, the Dyson Foundation has awarded major grants totaling $28,000,000 to several organizations. These include:

  • $7.5 million to Pace University (New York and Pleasantville, New York) for scholarships, to create the Dyson Student Opportunities Fund, and for the renovation of the Dyson School science laboratories.
  • $5 million to the Weill Cornell Medical College (New York, New York) towards the Ophthalmology Floor of their new Ambulatory Care and Medical Education Building.
  • $5 million to Health Quest, Inc. (Poughkeepsie, New York) to enhance and upgrade medical information technology throughout the hospital system (Health Quest includes Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie, Northern Dutchess Hospital in Rhinebeck, and Putnam Hospital Center in Carmel).
  • $5 million to Cornell University (Ithaca, New York) for the creation and endowment of the Dyson Scholars Program in the Department of Applied Economics and Management in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
  • $5 million to Marietta College (Marietta, Ohio) towards the construction of a new college library (this grant was previously announced).
  • $500,000 to the Pierpont Morgan Library (New York, NY) for the recent renovation and expansion of the library.

Additional information about each of these grants is included in the attached information sheet.

In 1957 Charles H. and Margaret M. Dyson established the Dyson Foundation, which took in the assets of an earlier trust (dating to 1949). Charles (1909-1997), or Charlie as he was known, became a renowned pioneer in the field of leveraged buyouts. An unpretentious, industrious man, with a true financial genius, Charlie was the son of immigrants of modest means. He went to work after finishing high school in Englewood, New Jersey and attended night classes at what was then Pace Institute (now Pace University). After working for an accounting firm, followed by an extraordinary period of public service with the U.S. Army Air Force and the Department of the Treasury during the Second World War, he worked for several large manufacturing businesses before he started his own company in 1954. That business, now called the Dyson-Kissner-Moran Corporation, became a large international holding company. Known as much for his community service as his business acumen, Charlie was a well-respected philanthropist and fundraiser for the many organizations that were beneficiaries of his largesse. His wife Margaret (1911-1990), was his constant partner in all of his endeavors for over 50 years, from weighing in on his business transactions to making her mark on their philanthropic activities. Together they raised four children, John (b. 1943), Rob (b. 1946), Anne (1947-2000) and Peter (b. 1951).

The Dyson Foundation was established to facilitate and formalize the family’s charitable giving and was intended to be a permanent vehicle for family philanthropy. Some years later when Charlie Dyson was asked why he and his wife had begun the foundation, he replied that he and Margaret “were making a little more money than we expected” and that “we were not giving away as much as we felt we should.

Since its inception, the Dyson Foundation has been a family-directed foundation. Anne Dyson took over as President from her father in 1978. After Anne’s death in 2000, Rob Dyson assumed the Presidency, and continues in that role. When it started in 1957, there were only about 4,000 foundations in the United States; today there are over 64,000. Headquartered in Millbrook, New York (Dutchess County), the Dyson Foundation has awarded over $164 million in grants since its founding to organizations large and small, national and local in both New York City and the Mid-Hudson Valley. The Dyson Foundation’s current grantmaking includes a significant grants program in the Mid-Hudson Valley of New York State that seeks to improve the quality of life in the region, create opportunities and support for economically disadvantaged individuals and families, and strengthen the nonprofit sector. The Dyson Foundation also supports a number of organizations and causes that are tied to Dyson family interests. Its assets currently stand at approximately $337 million. The Dyson Foundation awarded grants totaling $18,463,531 in 2006.

Later in 2007, the Dyson Foundation will be publishing a commemorative history of the Foundation on its website, along with a compilation of Fifty Years of Grantmaking.

Dyson Foundation 50th Anniversary Grants

Pace University
Grant Amount: $7.5 million
Pace University will receive $7.5 million, the largest of the Foundation’s 50th Anniversary grants, with $5 million going toward a $12 million upgrade of the science laboratories in Dyson Hall on the University’s campus in Pleasantville, NY, built in 1963 with funding provided by Charles H. Dyson. The remainder will provide scholarships and other student support. The grant is the third largest in Pace’s history and reflects a partnership between the Dyson family and Pace that began 75 years ago when Charles H. Dyson graduated from Pace in 1930. Pace’s core curriculum requires all students to take one science class with a laboratory component, and science is at the heart of popular new academic areas like forensic science and the physician assistant program. In the last five years, science majors at Pace have increased 36 percent, with a 50 percent increase in biology majors.

Contact: Chris Cory, Executive Director of Public Information

Weill Cornell Medical College
Grant Amount: $5 million
A $5 million dollar grant to the Department of Ophthalmology of the Weill Cornell Medical College will honor a relationship that began almost thirty years ago when Margaret M. Dyson was treated by Dr. D. Jackson Coleman for a detached retina. A lifelong friendship developed between the Dysons and Dr. Coleman (who was the longtime Chairman of Ophthalmology at Weill Cornell), and Margaret became especially interested in eye diseases and vision problems. This led to the establishment of the Margaret M. Dyson Vision Research Center at Weill Cornell in 1989. In recognition of that relationship with Dr. Coleman and Margaret’s interests, this grant will support the Ophthalmology area of the newly-built Ambulatory Care and Medical Education Building at York and 70th Street in New York City, which was dedicated on January 26, 2007. The Ophthalmology Floor will be named the Dyson Family Ophthalmology Floor.
Contact: Jonathan Weil, Director of Communications

Health Quest, Inc.
Grant Amount: $5 million
The Dyson Foundation’s $5 million grant to Health Quest will be used to support the continued implementation of critical healthcare information technology at all three of its member hospitals (Northern Dutchess Hospital/Rhinebeck, NY; Putnam Hospital Center/Carmel, NY, and Vassar Brothers Medical Center/Poughkeepsie, NY). Such technology – including medication bar-coding administration, electronic medical records, computerized documentation, and real-time wireless voice communication on clinical units – has become the standard hospitals across the nation are striving to reach in the interest of providing top-quality, cost-effective patient care. The grant from the Dyson Foundation supports this commitment and provides Health Quest with a significant portion of the funds needed to purchase and install this costly new technology.

Contact: Barbara Kram, Director for Marketing and Public Relations

Cornell University
Grant Amount: $5 million
The Dyson Scholars Program will benefit Cornell University's Department of Applied Economics and Management (AEM), the academic home of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' nationally ranked undergraduate business program (UBP). Dyson Scholars will be chosen based on academic performance, with award amounts determined by financial need. Once fully funded, the Dyson Scholars Program will offer awards to approximately the top 10 percent of students in each class year, with the greatest support going to freshmen, as well as funding special programmatic elements designed to foster leadership skills. Each year, more than 60 undergraduates will be named Dyson Scholars. The program will greatly strengthen AEM's ability to recruit students of the highest academic and leadership potential. Among the students who will derive the greatest benefit are those highly qualified students with the greatest financial need. The Dyson scholarships will enable such students to focus on their academic programs without the pressure of having to work to meet their financial needs, especially in the freshman year. It will also offer an added incentive to the program's most outstanding scholars to remain at Cornell by offering scholarship support to a very select number of UBP students who will enroll in the Johnson Graduate School of Management's MBA program.

Contact: Linda McCandless, Director of Communications
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Marietta College

Grant Amount: $5 million
A $5 million grant from the Dyson Foundation to Marietta College will help to construct a 53,400 sq. ft. new library, which will also include additional teaching spaces and provide for gathering and meeting places for students. It will be a campus centerpiece building and is projected to be completed by January 2009. Additional space in the new facility will allow for reference and library collections, archives and special collections, student study space, exhibition gallery, performance spaces, and a café. Robert R. Dyson, President of the Dyson Foundation, was a member of the Class of 1968 at Marietta College, and was delighted to honor his alma mater with this 50th Anniversary grant.

Contact: Tom Perry, Director of College Relations

Pierpont Morgan Library
Grant Amount: $500,000
The Pierpont Morgan Library recently opened its newly renovated and expanded facility in New York City. Designed by architect Renzo Piano, the facility includes a new entrance, expanded gallery space, a new 280-seat performance space, larger reading rooms, and new space for storage of the collections. This 50th Anniversary grant has been awarded in memory of Franklin H. Kissner, who was a passionate supporter of the Pierpont Morgan Library. Franklin H. Kissner was Charles Dyson’s first and longest tenured business partner. They met in 1941 when they both worked for the Air Force in wartime Washington. He later joined Charles Dyson in the business that eventually became known as the Dyson-Kissner-Moran Corporation in 1956. Frank Kissner was a noted art and rare books collector during his lifetime, and was a patron of many important cultural institutions in New York City and elsewhere. He died in 1988.

Contact: Patrick Milliman, Director of Communications & Marketing

For more information about this press release, contact:
Theresa Gill 845.790.6310
Diana Gurieva 845.790.6312 or 845.380.5438 (cell)