CHICAGO, IL.- Loyola University Chicago
announced today that John Cuneo Jr., his wife, Herta, and the Cuneo Foundation have given the University the largest gift in its 140-year history. The generous $50 million gift includes the Cuneo Museum and Gardens in Vernon Hills, Illinois, its nearly 100 surrounding acres, an extensive collection of art and furnishings, and an in-kind distribution of funds.
"This gift is the legacy of my father, and I know that he would want it used in a special way," John Cuneo Jr. said. "I feel that Loyola University Chicago is contributing to a better society by educating students in a tradition founded in the Jesuit values, and I can't think of a better place to pass on our family's estate."
The gift will be used to support several strategic initiatives at Loyola, including scholarships for students, a new state-of-the-art academic building on the Lake Shore Campus (to be named Cuneo Hall), and funds to support operations at the historic mansion and gardens. The University also will seek opportunities to develop the north part of the property.
"I am honored and humbled that John has asked to partner with Loyola so that we can enhance and preserve the property while also creating a funding source for student scholarships, which has always been near and dear to the Cuneos' hearts," said Michael J. Garanzini, S.J., president of Loyola. "The University will forever be indebted to John and Herta for their confidence and trust in putting this wonderful treasure in our hands so that we can continue this wonderful legacy that he and his father began."
After the transition is complete, Loyola plans to increase use of the mansion for weddings, other special occasions, and corporate events. In addition, the University will offer educational opportunities there to benefit students, faculty, and the greater Chicago-area community, especially those living in and around Lake County. Academic plans being considered include fine arts performances, lectures and classes, artist-in-residence programs, special events programming, and sustainability initiatives.
Loyola has a long-standing relationship with the Cuneos. The family has been committed supporters, benefactors, and friends of the University for more than 50 years. John Sr. helped found the Stritch School of Medicine Annual Award Dinner in 1950. The dinner is now the school's largest annual fundraiser. In 2000, John and Herta Cuneo partnered with the University to continue the support of John's father by naming the John & Herta Cuneo Center on the medical school's campus. The couple also sponsors a four-year scholarship for deserving students, allowing them to receive a Jesuit education they might otherwise not be able to afford.
With the Cuneo gift, Loyola has raised $400 million of its $500 million goal for its campaign, Partner: The Campaign for the Future of Loyola.
The Cuneo Museum and Gardens
Construction on the Cuneo Museum and Gardens began in 1908 and stopped during World War I. It was completed in 1918 as the home of Samuel Insull, an original founder of the General Electric Company, and designed by Chicago architect Benjamin Marshall in the Italianate style. Its gardens and landscaping were designed by world-renowned landscape architect Jens Jensen. In 1937, John Cuneo Sr. bought the home. He and his wife, Julia, had two children, John Jr. and Consuela, whom they raised on the estate. John Sr. owned and operated Hawthorn Mellody Farms Dairy, the National Tea Company, and the Cuneo Press. The mansion, which opened to the public as the Cuneo Museum and Gardens in 1991, houses the Cuneo family collection of fine antiques, paintings by world-famous artists, tapestries, sculptures, silver, and porcelain.