News and analysis
February 06, 2011

No. 48: Howard G. and Louise Phanstiel

Amount donated in 2010: $20.02-million

Beneficiary: Syracuse University

Donors’ background: The Phanstiels are managing directors of Phanstiel Enterprises, a private consulting and investment firm in Los Angeles. Mr. Phanstiel is the former chief executive of PacifiCare Health Systems.

Mr. Phanstiel, 62, and Mrs. Phanstiel, 52, pledged $20-million to establish a scholarship program for middle-income students who are citizens of the United States.

Mr. Phanstiel grew up in a middle-income family in Merrick, N.Y., and held part-time jobs to help pay his way through Syracuse, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1970 and a master’s degree in public administration in 1971. Mr. Phanstiel is a trustee of the university and a co-chair of its $1-billion capital campaign, which was started in 2007. The couple previously pledged $1.5-million in 2007 to help construct the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center.

The couple started thinking about a big gift when Mr. Phanstiel spearheaded a fund-raising effort to assist students who might otherwise be forced to leave the university because the recession had harmed their family’s finances. Syracuse was able to provide more than $1-million in aid to more than 425 student as a result of the campaign.

Mr. Phanstiel also credits the late Paul Newman for compelling him to give. (Mr. Phanstiel came to know the actor and philanthropist when his company sponsored Mr. Newman’s racecar.)

The Phanstiels hope that the gift makes it easier for middle-income students to attend the university. In a statement to The Chronicle, they wrote: “As America’s middle-class families increasingly require assistance to supplement their own personal sacrifice in order to finance their children’s education, our intent is to make possible a meaningful financial award that makes the difference in a student’s ability to earn a degree from Syracuse.”

The university did not disclose a payment schedule for the gift.

The Phanstiels also gave $20,000 to the Community Folk Art Center at the university.

—Caroline Bermudez

View more profiles of donors who gave the most in 2010.