ST. PAUL (AP) -- Richard M. Schulze, founder of Best Buy and a high school graduate who never went to college, is donating $50 million to the University of St. Thomas, the largest gift in the school's history.
St. Thomas said it is also the largest donation ever reported by a Minnesota college or university.
At least $5 million has been earmarked as a challenge grant to St. Thomas' annual alumni fund, which provides student financial aid.
More than 81 percent of St. Thomas undergraduates rely on financial aid to finance their education.
Schulze, who made the donation along with his wife, Sandra, cited the university's Catholic mission and its stress on values as one reason for the gift.
''Our family has been truly blessed. We've concluded that it is important for us to give back to our community in a meaningful way,'' he said.
He said he hopes the gift will inspire others to be generous.
Schulze grew up in the St. Thomas neighborhood in St. Paul and intended to enroll at the school, but service in the Minnesota Air National Guard and work for his father's electronics distribution company changed those plans.
However, two of the couple's four children have attended St. Thomas. Schulze was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree in December 1998 and serves on the university's board of trustees.
The Rev. Dennis Dease, president of St. Thomas, said the school is challenged by the potential and inspiration the money will provide.
''I am humbled and at the same time excited by this extraordinary gift,'' Dease said.
The University of St. Thomas, with an enrollment of about 10,000 students, is Minnesota's largest private university.
Best Buy Inc. is the nation's largest volume specialty retailer of consumer electronics, personal computers, entertainment software and appliances.
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