"I think we've won the national championship in many ways," Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee said in an interview. "This is a real affirmation by one of our great friends and supporters about his belief in the university."
Wexner, 73, is a 1959 graduate of Ohio State and currently chairs the board of trustees of the university, one of the nation's largest. The founder of the Columbus-based operator of Victoria's Secret, Bath and Body Works and other store chains portrayed the gift - including $65 million from Wexner personally and $35 million from the Limited Brands Foundation - as a matter of giving back.
"But for Ohio State and the education I received, I never would have started the business," Wexner said, in a video posted on the university's website.
The money would mostly go toward Ohio State University Medical Center and its cancer hospital and research institute, the university said. The amount shatters the previous record donation to the university, $30 million from Michael and Lou Ann Moritz in 2001, and it would rank among the 100 largest private gifts to higher education since 1967, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Gee said Ohio State hopes other donors will be inspired by Wexner's gift, which he described as an investment earmarked for specific things. The university president said no one should conclude that the school would not need other support, including from the state, and he stood by his recent statements that tuition would likely rise in the fall for the second year in a row, following a three-year freeze.
"What you say to parents is this is a gift in support of the quality of the institution so that, whatever they're paying, their sons and daughters will have at the end of the time a degree that is worth a lot more than it was even 10 years ago," Gee said.