The couple donated $500,000 to IU for their 25th wedding anniversary, according to a Jacobs School of Music press release. $400,000 of that gift will be used to create Anniversary Plaza.
The plaza was dedicated last Friday.
The plaza includes a sculpture by Donald Gummer. Gummer is an alumnus of the Herron School of Art and Design at IU-Purdue University Indianapolis, according to the release. He is husband to actress Meryl Streep.
“We are deeply indebted to Bill and Cindy Simon for their generous gift, which has made possible this stunning new architectural feature at one of the most important gateways into the Bloomington campus,” IU President Michael McRobbie said in the release. “As Anniversary Plaza welcomes countless students, faculty, friends and community members to the campus, it will also serve as a constant reminder of the Simons’ generosity to IU, while the magnificent piece by acclaimed sculptor Don Gummer will be a beautiful addition to our campus.”
William is a co-founder of the private equity firm William E. Simon and Sons, according to the music school. He also ran for governor of California in 2001 and lieutenant governor of California in 2010.
William E. Simon Sr., his father, was U.S. secretary of the treasury under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, according to the release.
Cynthia Simon earned a Bachelor of Arts in sociology in 1977 from IU’s College of Arts and Sciences. She is now president of the Cynthia L. and William E. Simon Jr. Foundation and the Sound Body Sound Mind Foundation, which works to fight childhood obesity.
She comes from a long line of IU alumni, according to the music school.
“Cindy represents generations of commitment to and engagement with IU,” said Curt Simic, president emeritus of the IU Foundation, in the release.
Simic and Cynthia Simon met at a retirement party for her grandmother and IU Alumni Association employee Freeda Stewart, Simic said in the release.
“It was obvious from the beginning that Cindy and Bill are philanthropists in the truest sense of the word,” he said in the release. “They have a very genuine desire — indeed, a commitment — to help others.”
The remaining $100,000 will be used to create the IU Art Museum’s Cynthia L. and William E. Simon Jr. Art Acquisition Fund, according to the music school. It was used to purchase a relief sculpture by “outsider artist” Thornton Dial named “Bark of the Timber, Fog of the Night,” 1995.
Museum Director Heidi Gealt said in the release that those at the IU Art Museum are grateful to the couple for reaching out.
“Their gift to us, combined with their concern about those who are disenfranchised or otherwise challenged, encouraged us to consider ‘outsider art,’ an important vein of creative expression by artists working outside the normal educational or economic spheres,” she said in the release.
This is not the first time the couple has donated to IU. The Glen D. and Dorothy E. Stewart Family Scholarship was created in 1993 in memory of Cynthia’s parents. The scholarship is within the College of Arts and Sciences’ sociology department, according to the release.
Another scholarship in honor of Stewart’s mother, the Dorothy Elizabeth Lowe Stewart Memorial Scholarship in the School of Education, was formed in 2010.