By Jane M. Von Bergen
Master investor Warren Buffett visited the George School Saturday morning to honor his relationship with his former mentor, economist David L. Dodd, a Columbia University professor who gave Buffett the basis for his successful investing.
Buffett will be at the Quaker secondary school in Bucks County for a dedication of the Newtown school's new library, funded in part by a $5 million donation from Dodd's daughter, Barbara Dodd Anderson, a 1950 graduate of the school.
Both Dodd Anderson and Buffett, chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., are scheduled to speak during the event.
Dodd bought his daughter early shares in Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway, then a textile firm.
Dodd Anderson was 13 when she came to George School at a difficult time in her life. Her father had sent her to the boarding school after his wife became ill. He did not want his only daughter to become a latchkey kid in New York City. By all accounts, she found a nurturing home at the school.
These days, just over half of George's 541 students live on campus. The school is co-ed.
In 2007, a year after her $5 million gift for the library, Dodd Anderson made an additional donation of $128.5 million to the school - then thought to be the largest donation to a private school, according to the National Association of Independent Schools in Washington.
A third of the $128.5 million was in Berkshire Hathaway stock, but all of it, her accountant said, was the result of investments in the company.
The $12.5 million library, with many green-construction features, will be named after her granddaughter, Mollie Dodd Anderson, now 12. Besides the library and the $128.5 million donation, Dodd Anderson also endowed a chair named after her father to attract and adequately compensate good teachers.
The school says that Buffett will not answer questions about the economy, but will talk about his relationship with the Dodd family.
Shares of Berkshire Hathaway stock closed at $100,980 yesterday, down from $118,700, the share price on Sept. 18, 2007, the day the George School announced Dodd Anderson's jaw-dropping donation. The net present value of the $128.5 million donation is now $68.5 million, the school said.
"That's happening all over the country," said Myra McGovern, spokeswoman for the National Association of Independent Schools. She said that schools that rely on their endowments for operating costs are struggling most with the decline. Nearly 75 percent of the George School's expenses are covered by tuition, the school said. The rest comes from the endowment, annual fund giving and other sources.
Barbara Dodd Anderson lives in Fresno, Ca.
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