H. F. Lenfest
|H. F. "Gerry" Lenfest|
|Alma mater||Washington and Lee University
H. F. "Gerry" Lenfest is a media entrepreneur and philanthropist.
Early Life and Career
Lenfest was born in Jacksonville, Florida, then later grew up in Scarsdale, New York and Hunterdon County, New Jersey. After attending Flemington High School, and graduating from Mercersburg Academy, Lenfest went on to receive his BA from Washington and Lee University in 1953 and his LLB from Columbia Law School in 1958. He served in the Navy between college and law school. Lenfest worked at the firm of Davis Polk & Wardwell before becoming, in 1965, associate counsel to Triangle Publications, Inc., the media company controlled by Walter Annenberg. In 1970, he was named head of the Communications Division at Triangle. He formed Lenfest Communications in 1974 and sold it to AT&T in 1999, who then sold it to Comcast in 2000 for $6.7 billion. Lenfest currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the TelVue Corporation. He is also the majority shareholder of this company.
Lenfest's wife, Marguerite B. Lenfest has also played an active role in the Lenfest Group, and Suburban Cable TV Co., Inc. She serves on the board of several cultural institutions including the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
Lenfest plans on donating all of his wealth to worthy causes before he dies. On March 21, 2007, Lenfest announced a donation of $33 million to be spent solely on faculty compensation at his alma mater, Washington and Lee University, where he serves as a trustee, and an unpublished amount to Wilson College, his wife's alma mater. In recent years, Lenfest has given over $100 million to Columbia University, where his donations include a $48 million challenge gift toward the endowment of 32 new professorships, $15 million toward construction of a Law School residence hall which bears his name, $15 million to support the programs of the Earth Institute, $12 million to endow awards for outstanding teaching, and most recently a $30 million pledge to help build a multidisciplinary arts venue on the Manhattanville campus.
'Gerry' and Marguerite Lenfest have given the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia $63.6 million in endowment, annual giving, underwriting of faculty chairs and student fellowships, bricks and mortar. Lenfest is Curtis' board chairman. Lenfest Hall, designed by Venturi, Scott-Brown & Associates, was opened in summer 2011. The Lenfests created a challenge program to endow faculty chairs. Student tuition at Curtis is free. (Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, Dec. 5, 2011, p. A1, A10-11.)
Lenfest was elected a trustee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in 1993, and became Chairman of the Museum's board in 2001. Since 2005 he has been Chairman of The American Revolution Center. In 2006, he became Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Curtis Institute of Music.
Lenfest endows the Lenfest College Scholars program, a $12,000 per year scholarship awarded to high school juniors from the south central Pennsylvania area. Until 2007, he also endowed the Lenfest College Prep Scholarship, which was given to teenagers from eighth to tenth grade from certain areas of rural Pennsylvania to attend one of four private schools, Mercersburg Academy, The Perkiomen School, Westtown School, or Wyoming Seminary. The Lenfest College Prep. Program was ended in 2007 due to unsatisfactory performance of some of the scholars. However, the scholarships will still be honored of those students still using the scholarship.
In July 2010, Lenfest donated $5.8 million to the SS United States Conservancy: $3 million to buy the cruise ship SS United States from Norwegian Cruise Lines and the rest to outfit the ship for its next use.
- Musser 2006 | About the award
- The Cable Center
- Office of the Secretary of The University: The Trustees of Columbia University
- Washington and Lee University, About Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest
- The Philanthropy 50: Americans Who Gave the Most in 2007
- The Chronicle of Higher Education
- Malone, Elizabeth (Fall 2010). "The Flagship Donor". Philanthropy. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
- Gammage, Jeff (July 10, 2010). "Lenfest gives millions to save SS United States". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
- Salisbury, Stephan (12 June 2012). "Lenfest issues $40 million challenge for American Revolution museum". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 30 March 2013.