The American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) has received a $17.4 million bequest from the estate of businessman and philanthropist Eric Ross of South Orange, New Jersey and West Palm Beach, Florida.
In recent years, Ross and his late wife Lore made frequent gifts to BGU. They supported numerous Ben-Gurion University programs, including scholarships for students in need, capital projects, as well as community service programs for disadvantaged residents of the Negev region. An outgrowth of their extraordinary personal relationship with BGU President Prof. Rivka Carmi, M.D., they also made numerous contributions to the President’s Discretionary Fund.
Ross rose from humble beginnings, fleeing Nazi Germany in 1938 with only $10 in his pocket and arrived in New York on what is now infamously known as Kristallnacht. He started what became an extremely successful business, manufacturing plastics and vinyl products for the flooring industry, as well as compounds for the medical industry. Ross later sold it and began his second career as a philanthropist. He gave away much of his fortune in his lifetime, determined to contribute to the greater Jewish community.
Over the course of his life, Ross donated approximately $250 million. Education became his philanthropic passion. When Ross was awarded a prestigious honorary doctoral degree from BGU in June 2010, he said, “What does this honorary doctorate mean to me? Well, considering that I never went to college and was forced out of school in 1933 at the age of 14, and have now received the University’s highest honor, I have not yet digested it.”