$50M gift comes with a catch

T. Boone Pickens, the legendary oilman and Dallas billionaire, has an unusual offer that the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center isn’t refusing.

Mr. Pickens is giving the Dallas campus $50 million today, with a hefty catch: Over the next 25 years the school must turn that gift into $500 million. Should it fall short, UT Southwestern can keep the initial $50 million – but must fork over the balance to Oklahoma State University, Mr. Boone’s alma mater, for student scholarships.

T. Boone Pickens Officials at the UT System and Southwestern insist they’ll meet the challenge and, no offense to college students across the Red River, every cent will stay in Texas. Why else would they have accepted the unconventional terms?

“Unless the country goes into a deep depression, I think it should be readily doable,” said Kern Wildenthal, UT Southwestern’s president.

Mr. Pickens agreed. “Can you see UT writing a check to OSU for anything?” he joked.

The maverick philanthropist is giving another $50 million, with the same provisions, to UT’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. It’s the largest single gift in Anderson’s history and ties for the largest one to UT Southwestern.

Each campus must hit the half-billion mark before it can spend any of the money. If — or when — that happens, the money can be spent as the medical campuses best see fit.

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