Simon Property Heiress Gives $100 Million to Mercersburg

Deborah Simon, daughter of the founder of mall developer Simon Property Group Inc., pledged $100 million to Mercersburg Academy, a private high school in Pennsylvania.

The gift, intended to fund financial aid, faculty development and facilities, matches the second-largest donation to a U.S. private school, according to an e-mailed statement by the school.

Simon is vice president of the board of regents at Mercersburg, where she studied from 1972 through 1974. Her father, Melvin Simon, was a founder of the Simon Property Group, based in Indianapolis, the largest U.S. mall owner. Some of Simon’s donation will be made through the Deborah Joy Simon Foundation.

“We are thrilled beyond words for this transformational gift and the confidence that Deborah and her foundation have placed in us,” said Douglas Hale, head of school, in the statement. “Because of their vision and generosity, young men and women from all walks of life will have access to an extraordinary education.”

Mercersburg, located about 100 miles from Baltimore, was founded in 1893 and has 435 students, according to the statement. Graduates of the boarding school, which also has day students, include the late actor Jimmy Stewart and former U.S. attorney general Richard Thornburgh.

In 2007, Barbara Dodd Anderson pledged $128 million to the George School in Newtown, Pennsylvania, the largest gift to a private school. In 1993, Walter Annenberg donated $100 million to the Peddie School in Hightstown, New Jersey.

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