USD receives $20M donation for business school renovations

SAN DIEGO — The University of San Diego announced Thursday a $20 million donation to help fund a construction and renovation project for its School of Business.

The gift from the chairman of the USD Board of Trustees, Donald Knauss and his wife Ellie, will fund final planning and work on the School of Business Complex, which will bear their name.

The project involves construction of an 80,000-square-foot building and upgrades to Olin Hall, the existing 48,000-square-foot home of the business program. The project will nearly triple the school’s current footprint and bring into one location all of the school’s academic programs, centers and institutes, according to USD.

Classes for around 640 business students are now held in multiple campus locations.

“Today, we express our most sincere gratitude to Don and Ellie Knauss for their pledge of $20 million to launch the final planning and construction of a new USD School of Business complex,” said USD President James Harris. “The Knausses’ generosity will enable USD to move forward with a major project that will transform the School of Business footprint and bring into one location all of the school’s academic programs, centers and institutes.”

The project is expected to cost around $67 million and be completed in 2022, according to USD.

School officials said Knauss joined the Board of Trustees nine years ago while serving as chairman and CEO of the Clorox Corp.  He retired two years ago, after serving as executive chairman of the board from November 2014 until July 2015.  He was also an executive for a dozen years with Coca Cola.

The donation is the second large gift bestowed on an area business school in a little over a year.

In October 2016, Padres Executive Chairman Ron Fowler donated $25 million to the business school at San Diego State University. The longtime area businessman has also supported various USD projects, including construction of a new baseball stadium.