Sir Frank Lowy, the owner and Chairman of Westfield Corporation, a global real estate and shopping center conglomerate, is donating $18 million to Tel Aviv University to expand its International School, which will be renamed The Lowy International School, in honor of his late wife. The name change ceremony will take place next Tuesday.
Lowy was born in Czechoslovakia (in what is today’s Slovakia) and was imprisoned in a ghetto in Hungary during World War II. In 1946, he made his way to France, where he boarded the ship Yagur which sailed to Mandatory Palestine, but was captured by the British authorities and interned in a Cyprus detention camp. Lowy later joined the Haganah, and, in 1948, the IDF’s Golani Brigade. He fought in the Galilee and Gaza. In 1952, Lowy joined his family in Australia and started a business. In October 2010, after turning 80, Lowy stood down as Executive Chairman of the Westfield Group.
Sir Frank Lowy was knighted in 2017 on the Queen’s birthday, for his service to business and his philanthropy. His wealth is estimated at $8.5 billion (minus the $18 million, of course).
Sir Frank’s generous gift will fund the construction of a new building for the International School, as well as the launch of three key activities at the school: The Lowy Scholarship Fund supporting outstanding international students at stages of their academic studies, including research students; The Lowy Distinguished Guest Professors Fund financing visits of leading scholars from abroad; and The development of new international and local programs and initiatives.
The money will also help TAU expand, enrich and diversify its student body as well as its study programs. TAU already offers more than 20 English-language academic programs, including a joint Liberal Arts bachelor’s degree with Columbia University, a new International BA in Management and Liberal Arts, and an online MBA program – the first of its kind in Israel.
Sir Frank Lowy said: “I have always been a Zionist, and now I am excited for this extension of my warm friendship with Tel Aviv University – intended to bolster TAU and Israel’s relations with leading partners in academia and industry around the world. With this gift, I hope to enhance the important connection between the State of Israel and Diaspora Jewry, and to encourage academic excellence by bringing the best researchers and students from all over the world to Israel.”
He added a personal note: “My family and I know that my dear wife Shirley’s memory will forever live on at TAU, and this makes us very proud. Shirley believed in education, and in her 40s fulfilled a childhood dream and completed an academic degree. This tribute to my wife combines all the things that were most important to her – education, the state of Israel, and empowering the new generations. The gift in her memory will benefit students and scholars in many ways, and for years to come. I know that Shirley would be happy and honored to see that her legacy is commemorated in this way.”
Prof. Ariel Porat, President of Tel Aviv University, said: “Sir Frank Lowy’s leadership and philanthropic activity have for decades generated significant changes in communities in Israel, Australia, and worldwide. This new gift will further enhance his impact, strengthen the ties between Israel and the world, and extend the reach of Israeli academia. It is a great privilege for us at Tel Aviv University to regard Sir Frank as a close and steadfast friend. The fact that he has seen fit to entrust us with the legacy of his beloved wife Shirley, is a great honor for us.”