August 21, 2007
Zilber gives $30 million to Law School; gift is part of $50 million for Milwaukee
Joseph J. Zilber, Milwaukee philanthropist, real estate developer and Chairman of the Board of Zilber Ltd., a real estate holding company, announced today that he was committing $50 million to charities, organizations and institutions in Milwaukee. Milwaukee is at a critical juncture in its history, Zilber said in launching his “New Potential for Milwaukee” initiative.
Zilber made the announcement at a press conference held on the site of the planned, new Marquette University Law School at 13th and Clybourn near the Marquette Interchange, flanked by Marquette President Robert A. Wild, S.J., and Law School Dean Joseph D. Kearney. Zilber said he would have further statements about his initiative, which includes today’s announcement of a $30 million gift to the Law School, in the next few months, as he approaches his 90th birthday.
“We are not the city we were. We need to concentrate our energy and resources on the city we can be. We need more and better jobs. We need more funding and a broader commitment to improving the quality of the education of our young men and women and to improve the commitment of government at all levels to efficiency and bipartisan public policy. The strength of our ethnic parts must come together for one purpose – to make life in Milwaukee better, richer, fuller for all its citizens,” Zilber stated.
Zilber went on to say that, “Toward that end I have begun to make commitments designed to help achieve the goals that I have outlined. The city of Milwaukee has been very good to me, my company and my employees. These commitments are my attempt to return to the community of my birth, the investment that it made in me.”
“I’m trying to do what I can to make sure we move forward on the path to success. Each of us in our own way and with our own resources, large or small, can make a difference,” Zilber said. He is currently involved in the historic and sustainable redevelopment of the 20-acre Pabst Brewery, a few blocks north of the Marquette campus.
“Marquette is Milwaukee’s law school and my alma mater. My hope is that others will have the opportunity to take advantage of Marquette’s rigorous legal education, which is steeped in the tradition of the values of excellence, faith, service and leadership,” Zilber said. “We must educate and encourage the growth of the leaders of tomorrow -- those who will work hard to preserve the best that is Milwaukee while reaching out to create new opportunities; sustain and nourish a rich and diverse population; and build a strong and sound economic base that provides good jobs and opportunities for all of its citizens. That mission – to prepare students to make a difference in our world -- is not only part of Marquette’s tradition but also part of its current focus. ”
Father Wild called the gift, which includes $5 million toward construction of the new building and $25 million for scholarships, an extraordinary example of Zilber’s generosity and belief in the potential of both Milwaukee and Marquette. “Joe is a passionate advocate for this community,” he said. “His developments fuel economic growth, and his philanthropy has supported educational, religious and health care advances. He is a wonderful example of what we strive to instill in Marquette graduates: leadership through service to others.”
Kearney said the four-story atrium in the planned new Law School building will be called the Zilber Forum. “The Zilber Forum will be the heart of the building. We envision the forum as a place where important discussions concerning both legal and public policy issues occur, not just among law students and the faculty or with lawyers and judges but involving the entire community,” he said. Kearney said the $25 million for scholarships is a “massive expansion” of the Zilber scholarship program that has provided financial aid for hundreds of law students at Marquette since 1984.
Father Wild said that Mr. Zilber recognized the university’s increasing need for student financial aid in making his gift. “As we continue to attract a significant percentage of highly qualified, first generation students, we must find ways to ensure their ability to access a Marquette education,” he said. “The need is growing, and we must focus our attention on building our scholarship endowment. The Zilber gift is a great first step.”
“Investing in education and the young men and women who will be tomorrow’s legal, political and business leaders, is a commitment to our future,” Zilber said. “The building is important, but access to a Marquette education changes lives, not only for the students themselves, but for their children and their children’s children. I believe in investing in people; I want today’s law students who have financial need to enjoy the same opportunity I had,” stated Zilber, who graduated from the Law School in 1941 after studying business administration at Marquette as an undergraduate.
Zilber, who was born and raised in Milwaukee on the 2100 block of North 9th Street, started Towne Realty, Inc. in 1949. Zilber Ltd., his holding company, is today a diversified real estate development and management firm, with corporate headquarters in Milwaukee and operations in Hawaii, California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Florida, Illinois and Wisconsin.
Zilber concluded his remarks to Father Wild, Dean Kearney and first year law students by informing them that he would be making a series of announcements in the coming weeks regarding his commitment to the city and that he would have other announcements that he hoped would have a significant impact on Milwaukee’s ability to fulfill its “new potential.”
“I was recently blessed with two great grandchildren. My sincere hope is that when they become young adults they will look upon a Milwaukee that pushes the boundaries of its potential -- a city having good jobs at good pay for its citizens; a city with a full and rich cultural climate; a city committed to enhancing its youth with great educational programs; a city that respects and meets the needs of the poorest, the oldest and least fortunate among its citizens. It is time to rebuild Milwaukee. In the time I have left, with all the energy and resources that I possess, I will do what I can. My parents came here with a dream. For me, their dream came true. What will that dream be for my great grandsons when they come to see the town of my birth ten years from now? Will they see that Milwaukee has achieved its ‘new potential’? I hope so. I truly hope so,” Zilber concluded.
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Assistant to the Chairman, Zilber Ltd.