The Arizona State University and Phoenix business communities are mourning the loss of a great benefactor, philanthropist and businessman. William Polk Carey, one of the nation’s most prominent real estate investors and the major donor behind the W. P. Carey School of Business at ASU, has passed away at the age of 81.
“The ASU family mourns the loss of our benefactor and friend Bill Carey,” says ASU President Michael M. Crow. “Bill Carey was not only a great business leader and philanthropist, but also a visionary. He knew that metropolitan Phoenix needed a first-rate business school to advance in the 21st century and saw in ASU the potential to develop that school. Through his generous investment in ASU almost a decade ago, the school that bears his name has become world-class and will continue to educate future business leaders for many generations to come.”
The New York-based banker, founder and chairman of W. P. Carey & Co. LLC donated $50 million from his educational and philanthropic W. P. Carey Foundation to ASU in 2003. In recognition of his extraordinary support, ASU renamed the university’s business school in his honor, and the gift has been instrumental in helping the W. P. Carey School to become one of the world’s top business schools. U.S. News & World Report, The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times all now rank W. P. Carey School programs among the Top 30 nationwide.
At the time, Carey’s generous donation was the second-largest gift ever to a U.S. business school. Carey’s family has deep connections to Arizona State University. His grandfather introduced legislation that created the university in 1886. Carey also had an honorary Doctor of Science degree from ASU.
Carey has said of his gift to the business school, “The key to future economic growth is quality education, and this school will be dedicated to producing our country’s next generation of business leaders.”
The school’s leadership agrees.
“Bill gave us the ability to dramatically advance the quality and status of the school much more rapidly than would have been possible otherwise,” says W. P. Carey School of Business Dean Robert Mittelstaedt. “He was a philanthropist who believed a primary way to advance our country was through education, and he helped a number of schools, including ours. He was also a student of economics and a great admirer of top-tier economists.”
Mittelstaedt also says Carey was a smart businessman who pioneered a way for smaller investors to participate in large real estate projects with consistent top-tier returns. Carey had an incredible 60-plus-year career in the finance industry and will be remembered as a visionary leader with fierce loyalty and abundant generosity.