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Foster Business School

The UW Business School recently got a name: Foster.  Michael G. Foster to be exact.  Although just "Foster" is perhaps more fitting since 3 generations of the Foster family have contributed to making this possible.  Just how much does it cost to get a prominent business school named after you?  About $50 million.  Here’s how it went down.

It all started way back in 1928 when Albert Foster graduated from UW Business School.   Not too long later, he founded the brokerage firm A.O. Foster & Co. which was successful enough to enable his family to get into the philanthropy business.  Albert’s son Michael G also attended UW Business school.  Michael G died a few years back and his relatives wanted to honor his memory some how.

Balmer Hall, the building which currently houses the UW Business School is mercifully scheduled for demolition almost as soon as I graduate next year.  The plan is to build three new buildings.  The Foster family intended to name one of them after Michael G, but after seeing the architectural plans thought that maybe one building wasn’t enough to honor his memory so the discussion expanded to multiple buildings and next thing you know they were asking the same question you did.  We can pretend the conversation went something like this.

"How much for 2 buildings?"

"That’ll be another $10 mil."

"How much to throw in the whole school?"

"$50 million is what we’ve been saying all along."

"But we already gave you $3 mil to name the Albert Foster Business Library.  How about we give you $46.5 and we call it a deal?"

And so it was.  It’s good to know that Foster Business School is built on rock-solid negotiating skills.  :)

In all seriousness, it’s nice to see philanthropy with few strings attached.  I hear "generous donors" are often really demanding in how their money is spent.  But not here.  They even released the naming rights for the individual buildings back to the school to help offset more of the construction costs.

Overall I must express heartfelt thanks to the Fosters.  I’ll be proud to earn my MBA from Foster.  I already like it better than UWBS.

Want to read more?  Visit the Foster Business School on the web, or read what a professional information-disperser wrote about the transaction.

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