Investor and philanthropist Leon Cooperman and his wife, Toby Cooperman, graduates and sweethearts from the Class of ’64, have donated $25 million to Hunter College – the largest gift in Hunter’s history.
They gave $10 million to endow student scholarships and $15 million to support the renovation of Hunter’s 68th Street library, which has been renamed The Leon and Toby Cooperman Library. The gift, made on the occasion of the Coopermans’ 50th wedding anniversary and 50th Hunter reunion, is first and foremost a thank you to Hunter College and a way to give back to future generations of Hunter students.
Both Leon and Toby recall fondly the first-class educations they received at Hunter – he for $24 a semester, she, as president of the class, largely for free.
Acknowledging that tuition at Hunter today, though still a bargain, can place a financial burden on many students and even prevent them from pursuing an education, Leon and Toby created a game-changing $10 million scholarship fund that will ensure student success and inspire others to also support current and future generations of Hunter students.p After all, long before Leon became one of the world’s leading financial wizards and one of Forbes magazine’s “400 wealthiest Americans,” he was, in his words, just “a plumber’s kid out of the South Bronx” whose dreams were made possible at Hunter.
By donating $15 million to the library renovation, Leon and Toby are recognizing that the shift from books to online materials is not the only mark of a modern library. A library dedicated to student success, and one where students can gather to study, collaborate, and socialize, is critical, particularly at a commuter school like Hunter.
The Coopermans’ record-making gift is not their first to Hunter. In 2009, they announced a gift of $1 million to create the Leon Cooperman Pre-Business Program at Hunter College, which provides talented Hunter students with the financial support, skills, and self-confidence to compete for admissions to leading business schools and to pursue successful careers in business.
In all these ways, Leon and Toby are literally investing in students’ futures. And Leon’s record proves that he only makes investments that yield exceptional returns. As he told the Wall Street Journal for an article on the Hunter gift, “I don’t like wasting money.”