Haverford College Gave This Guy Free Tuition After His Parents Died; He Is Now The School’s Biggest Donor

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When Howard Lutnick enrolled at Haverford College in the late 1970s, he was still recovering from the tragic loss of his mother, who had passed away two years earlier.

Bad news for Lutnick, a star on the tennis team, would only get worse during his time at the Philadelphia-based Quaker college. One week into his freshman year, his father died as a result of medical malpractice.

Instead of being put in the same position as his sister, who was told by the University of Rhode Island that if she couldn’t pay for classes, she should get a job waitressing, Lutnick was taken in by his school. When the university president heard about Lutnick’s situation, he picked up the phone and called the freshman: “Howard, your four years here are free.”

Lutnick thrived at the school, and upon graduation, he became a prominent figure in the business community. He got a job at Cantor Fitzgerald, a New York-based financial firm, and was running the place by the age of 29.

However, Lutnick was not immune to tragedy. His company, which was headquartered on the top floors of the South Tower at the World Trade Center, lost nearly two-thirds of its workforce in the September 11 attacks–including Lutnick’s brother. The only reason Lutnick survived was because he was taking his kid to Kindergarten.

Lutnick credited his college for teaching him how to respond to crisis.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

He rebuilt the company – which now includes BGC Partners and employs 8,000 globally – and for five years gave 25 percent of profits, $180 million in total, to the families. In addition, on Sept. 11 each year, his employees forgo a day’s pay and the company donates that day’s revenue – this year, about $12 million – to a variety of charities.

Lutnick has spent his entire life paying back the community that gave him an opportunity to succeed. He recently pledged $25 million to Haverford–the largest donation in the school’s history. In total, Lutnick has given $65 million to Haverford in the last 25 years.

Why does he feel such a connection to his school?

Lutnick said his motivation was simple: Love.

“Haverford was there for me,” he said, “and taught me what it meant to be a human being.”

[via Philadelphia Inquirer]

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