University benefactor, alumnus Tinkham Veale II passes away


The university center is currently under construction as a result of Veale’s $20 million donation to CWRU.

Sage Schaff, Tyler Hoffman, and Greg Bokar

Some say philanthropy is, at its core, more self-interested than selfless. But for Tinkham Veale, given his background, it was never about seeing his name on a building or being congratulated.

He grew up in Kansas during the 1920s, mining oil fields until he decided to come to Case Institute of Technology in 1933 for mechanical engineering. Veale was so humbled to have that opportunity — one that so few rural young Americans had in that era — that he gave back to the university every year since his graduation. 75 years and millions of dollars later, Veale has undoubtedly helped shape CWRU not just into what it is today, but what it will be years from now.

In 2012, Veale contributed $20 million to what is arguably CWRU’s most ambitious campus enhancement project to date. The Tinkham Veale University Center, set to open in 2014, is part of CWRU’s vision of socially uniting students from all part of the university.

Veale’s wealth was the result of a prosperous career, mainly as a manufacturer and venture capitalist, after his graduation in 1937. Despite initially retiring young, Veale returned to business in 1960 when he and his colleagues created a company called Alco Standard. Their plan was to buy small, private companies, give them the resources and direction necessary to catch their big break, and then watch them grow. By 1996, Alco had acquired and “raised” 52 such companies and was so expansive that it split into two separate firms.

The last time Veale was on campus was in May for the groundbreaking for the university center. Over the years, he has provided for countless student scholarships and endowed many professorships, but there seemed to be an implicit understanding at the ceremony that it was a truly monumental turning point in CWRU history. His warm expression as he helped lift the shovel for the first plunge into the ground was that of a man who knew that he had fulfilled a promise to leave CWRU much, much better than he found it almost 80 years ago.

CWRU President Barbara R. Snyder announced Veale’s death to the campus community via email on Wednesday. In her statement to the university, she said, “For me, what stands out most about Tink was the immense joy he took in giving to others. His excitement about the university center matched that of even the most enthusiastic campus advocate – indeed, he could not wait to see students gathered in the new building.”

“As student leaders we are given the power to initiate change, but without the continued support of alumni like Mr. Veale, our opportunities would have been limited,” said Minh-Tri Nguyen, president of the Undergraduate Student Government during the time Veale’s donation made the university center a possibility. Yet the impact of Veale’s contributions reaches not only alumni, but to current and future students as well.

“Tink Veale’s deep affection for [CWRU] and his repeated generosity combined to make possible numerous improvements to our campus and to the experience of our students,” vice president for student affairs Glenn Nicholls explained.

“Through these wonderful additions to our campus, Tink Veale’s commitment to CWRU will benefit students for many years to come,” he concluded.