Statement from Mark S. Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D., president of the University of Michigan
The University of Michigan family was saddened to learn of the passing of A. Alfred Taubman. We have lost a dear friend and educational partner, one of the genuine leaders and best.
Our hearts go out to his family, friends, loved ones, and all those he has touched with his considerable generosity and commitment to a better University of Michigan.
The University of Michigan – and the opportunities we provide to our students – would not be the same without Mr. Taubman. He valued state-of-the-art facilities for teaching, research and patient care, and he was always mindful of supporting the activities that take place inside the university and the buildings that bear his name. He provided scholarships to our students, enhanced the way we teach architecture and urban planning, and gave our faculty the opportunity to launch unparalleled medical research initiatives.
Mr. Taubman’s legacy at the University of Michigan will forever reflect his generosity, impact, and passion for advancing opportunities for our campus, its students and the health and well-being of all members of society. His strong support of the University of Michigan during his life will be further augmented by the provisions he made in his will for the university’s future.
He was a great man– successful, generous and warm. But he also was someone who held all those around him to high standards. He helped drive excellence at Michigan not just through his philanthropy, but by the advice he gave to multiple presidents and the fact that he held us to account to get the very most out of everything we did.
Our entire community will deeply miss Mr. Taubman and his commitment to our campus and students.
Alfred Taubman Bio
Alfred Taubman (Taubman College ’48; LLD Hon ’91) of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., passed away on April 17, 2015. Taubman, a retail visionary who pioneered the concept of the modern shopping mall, made his mark as a transformative philanthropist at Michigan, where he studied architecture before and after his service in World War II.
In 2011, Taubman shared a story about how he learned the importance of philanthropy early in life: “When my father went out to raise funds for good causes, he used to say, ‘If I make a donation, I have given once. If I then solicit monies, I gave twice. And if my contribution has inspired others to support a good cause, I will have given three times.’”
Taubman has demonstrated his commitment to those ideas with a long history of major gifts to U-M—gifts of not only money, but also of time, energy, expertise, and leadership by example. That commitment was perhaps most evident in his contributions to the U-M Health System. In the early 1980s, he became a major proponent of the Replacement Hospital Project and served on the building committee. His business savvy saved the university millions of dollars when he urged the administration to buy steel while prices were down. His support of innovative medical science at U-M funded efforts to find better treatments and cures for a wide variety of human diseases. The A. Alfred Taubman Biomedical Science Research Building was named in recognition of his transformative 2011 gift to the Taubman Medical Research Institute.
That generosity also included, at the time, the largest gift in history—$30 million in 1999—to any school of architecture in the country, which in recognition of this transformative gift was subsequently named the A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. In March 2014, he committed an additional $12.5 million to help fund an expansion and renovation project that will provide new state-of-the-art facilities in Taubman College. In recognition of this significant commitment from Taubman toward construction of the expansion and renovation of the Art and Architecture Building, the new wing will be named the A. Alfred Taubman Wing. Ground was broken on this project this past week, with Taubman attending the ceremony and making remarks.
Other campus namesakes include the A. Alfred Taubman Health Care Center, the Taubman Health Sciences Library, and the A. Alfred Taubman Galleries at the University of Michigan Museum of Art. Taubman received the David B. Hermelin Award for Fundraising Volunteer Leadership in 2009, which celebrates exceptional volunteer service to the university. He received the university’s highest award, an honorary degree, in 1991.
Taubman was currently serving as a campaign vice chair for the University of Michigan Victors for Michigan campaign—a $4 billion fundraising campaign to support three university priorities: student scholarships and fellowships, engaged learning, and bold ideas. He was also co-chairing the U-M Health System’s component of the campaign.
A confidant and advisor to many U-M leaders, current University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel said of Taubman: “He was a great man — successful, generous and warm. But he also was someone who held all those around him to high standards. He helped drive excellence at Michigan not just through his philanthropy, but by the advice he gave to multiple presidents and the fact that he held us to account to get the very most out of everything we did. He will be mourned by all who knew him.”
“I owe the University of Michigan more than I could ever pay back in my lifetime,” said Taubman. “My experiences here as a young man helped shape every aspect of my life, and this university contributes so much to our state and our nation. I will be forever grateful.”