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A seven-figure gift from an online student

An Arizona businessman has donated $4 million to a university where he earned bachelor's and master's degrees entirely online.

That must be some sort of a record; it's certainly the largest single gift in the history of Saint Leo University, outside Tampa. Perhaps wholesaler Don Tapia represents a new era of alumni giving.

Saint Leo will use the funds to build a new facility for its business school, to be named in his honor, according to a release.

Arthur F. Kirk, Jr., president of Saint Leo, said in the statement that the school "would be hard pressed to find a Saint Leo student that this gift will not impact."

Saint Leo is one of a new generation of colleges that operate both a bricks-and-mortar campus and an extensive online program, a concept it dubs "bricks and clicks." The online offerings are popular at military installations

According to a Saint Leo release, Tapia grew up in the Detroit slums, then joined the Air Force, then rose to prominence as a businessman, building the largest Hispanic-owned company in Arizona. During the 3 1/2 years he was working toward his B.A., no one in his family knew he was even taking classes.

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By Daniel de Vise  |  April 27, 2010; 5:22 PM ET
Categories:  Facilities , Finance , Online  | Tags: $4 million gift online alumnus, don tapia donation, online donation, saint leo donation  
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