Seed Money
Peter Paul '67 kicks off the funding for a new business college by donating $25 million

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Peter Paul '67 likes to refer to himself as "an old kid from New Hampshire," and indeed, his unpretentious, open manner gives him a particularly youthful air. He is a seemingly uncomplicated person with a head for very complicated industries—mortgage banking, winemaking, biofuels—and in conversation, he easily ticks off scores of details while others grapple with the basic concept. "Numbers are simple for me," he explains. He's very good at making money, and generous by nature. In June, he announced his second gift to UNH, a $25 million challenge--half of the $50 million cost of building a new business college at UNH. It is the single largest gift in the university's history. (In 2001, Paul donated $10 million to establish the Peter T. Paul Chair in Space Science and the Dr. Samuel F. Paul Chair in Developmental Psychology.)

Paul says the more money you have, "the more marginal the unit of satisfaction you get in spending it—in other words, I have enough. It's important to me to put my money where it can make the most impact." He adds that he's always planned to give a substantial part of his assets to others.

When he announced his gift, Paul emphasized that investing in his home state is fun for him, and he is clearly looking forward to seeing what might transpire from his challenge. "The Granite State is thrifty. It knows how to do more with less and achieve great results," he told a standing-room-only audience on the UNH campus. "This is a good deal—50 percent off on something that is clearly needed in the state!"

Paul knows the state. He grew up in the small New Hampshire town of Troy, the oldest of three children; his father was a physician and his mother, a nurse. He was a Boy Scout, swam and fished in local ponds and took the bus to the movie theaters in Keene (movies cost 50 cents; popcorn, 10 cents). In high school, he excelled at math and science. He was particularly interested in chemistry, and one of his first jobs was working in the lab at Troy Mills, which made vinyl upholstery for cars. At UNH, Paul spent two years as a chemical engineering major. He could do the calculus and statistics, he says, but the satisfaction he got from solving a physics problem wasn't worth the effort expended. After taking an economics course, he switched to business administration. "What I got from my education at UNH was a structure with which to solve problems and deal with situations—that's timeless," he says.

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