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$1.5 Million in New Gifts Advances Building Project

Joan Tisch

      Joan Tisch

Tisch Gift to Name New Gallery

UM alumna and New York philanthropist and patron of the arts Joan Tisch has donated $1 million to name one of the Museum's modern and contemporary galleries, which will also honor her late husband Preston Robert (Bob) Tisch. With this very generous donation to UMMA, the Tisch family has distinguished itself as perhaps the first to make leadership gifts to UM academics, athletics, and the visual arts. A $7.5 million gift from the Tisch family in the late 1990s funded the Tisch Humanities Building and the Tisch Tennis Center.

Joan and Bob Tisch’s strong UM ties were forged as undergraduates, and their lifelong partnership began on the steps of the Hatcher Graduate Library where they met. Both were named Honorary Chairpersons of the ongoing Michigan Difference Campaign, a role in which Mrs. Tisch continues. She received an AB in English and Bob Tisch was awarded an AB in economics, both in 1948. Their daughter Laurie is a 1973 LSA graduate with a degree in education.

“Joan is an enormously committed steward of the arts in New York City, a discerning collector, and a true friend, along with her late husband Bob, to the University of Michigan. It would be difficult to overstate how thrilled we are to have this gift and the vote of confidence it represents,” said UMMA Director James Steward. “Given Joan’s particular passion for the art of the twentieth century, we’re honored that the first of the Museum’s new galleries to be devoted to modern and contemporary art, located at the heart of the campus that they love dearly, will carry the Tisch family name.”

In addition to their transformative impact at Michigan, the Tisch family’s generosity has ranged broadly across the arts, social services, cultural, and educational institutions of their native New York City. Mrs. Tisch is a trustee of the Museum of Modern Art, a board member and volunteer at the 92nd Street Y and Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and a supporter of such institutions as Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Children’s Zoo in Central Park, and Carnegie Hall. New York University owes much to the Tisch family’s largesse, which has included gifts in support of the Tisch School of the Arts and the Tisch Hospital, as does Boston’s Tufts University, alma mater to both Tisch sons Jonathan and Steven. Duke University Medical Center was awarded a $10 million gift toward advanced cancer treatment research.

Bob Tisch was co-founder with his brother Laurence of the Loews Corporation, one of the largest diversified financial corporations in the United States. Its principal subsidiaries are CNA Financial Corporation, Lorillard, Inc., Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, LP, Diamond Offshore Drilling, Inc., HighMount Exploration & Production LLC, Loews Hotels, and Bulova Corporation. He served as U.S. Postmaster General from 1986 to 1988 and was co-owner of the New York Giants at the time of his death in 2005.

Thomas and Polly Bredt Challenge Gift

With spirited generosity, Thomas and Polly Bredt of Portolo Valley, California, have followed up their $1 million leadership gift to the UMMA building expansion and restoration campaign with an additional $500,000 challenge gift that they hope will inspire other donors to step up at this important fundraising juncture. Their gift will provide support for essential building needs, such as finishing out and furnishing the collections and exhibitions galleries that are doubling in number and size, as well as the new lighting systems, art storage, site design, and public amenities that will help the expanded and restored Museum achieve its potential as a world-class facility. In 2000, the Bredts donated $2 million to endow the Bredt Family Professorship in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan.

“It’s an inspiration to have two benefactors of such generosity come back to us, unsolicited, with this kind of support. Their belief in the purposes of having a great museum of art in a great university is the kind of endorsement that will see us through the home stretch,” said Museum Director James Steward.

Thomas and Polly Bredt met as undergraduates at UM (1962 College of Engineering and 1963 College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, respectively). Tom Bredt holds a master’s in electrical engineering from New York University and a Ph.D. in computer science from Stanford, where he also was on the electrical engineering faculty. He is managing director of Menlo Ventures, in Menlo Park, California, one of Silicon Valley’s most successful venture capital firms. Polly Bredt was a doctoral student in the speech and hearing sciences at Michigan and has worked as a speech pathologist. The Bredts are also major supporters of the San Jose Museum of Art.