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USF St. Pete Receives $10 Million Gift, Will Rename College of Business

Sep 4, 2014

Pinellas County entrepreneur Kate Tiedemann donated $10 million to USF St. Petersburg, which will rename its College of Business after her.
Credit USF St. Petersburg

The University of South Florida St. Petersburg is naming its College of Business after a Pinellas County entrepreneur who came to America on a steamship and worked her way up to starting her own internationally-known company.

The USF System Board of Trustees approved the new name - the USFSP Kate Tiedemann College of Business - at its meeting Thursday.

Tiedeman's gift of $10 million is the largest single gift in USFSP's almost 50-year history.

Tiedemann came to New York from Germany in 1955 aboard a steamship. The then 18 year-old first worked as a maid and cook for former New York Governor Thomas Dewey.

She eventually found a job at Storz Instrument Company, now a part of Bausch and Lomb. She stayed in the surgical field, first co-founding Sparta Instrument Corporation, and then launching her own company, Katena Products Inc. (short for "Kate North America") in 1975.

Katena, which was started in the basement of Tiedemann's New Jersey home, now markets more than 1,400 instruments for eye surgery to more than 110 countries around the world. 

And probably the most amazing thing is that Tiedemann never attended either high school or college.

"I'm very, very proud that I have the opportunity to leave my legacy here in Florida with USFSP and I'm so looking forward to seeing the College of Business grow and flourish in the future," she said at Thursday's meeting. "This is a wonderful institution and I'm proud to be part of it."

"This gift will support our College of Business and its students, faculty and programs," USFSP Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska said. "We are forever changed because of her investment in us and we promise not to disappoint."

The Tampa Bay Times reports $6 million will go to an endowment to provide long-term income for the College, with the rest going to upgrade academic content.

USF St. Petersburg officials plan to break ground on a new College of Business building this October. The Times adds that the university hopes to sell the naming rights to that building, which is set to open to students in the fall of 2016.