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Mar 6, 2024 Accountancy Alumni Business Administration Excellence Faculty Finance Giving Stories Research in Education Student

University of Illinois announces wide-ranging $5.75 million gift from alumnus Anthony J. Petullo

Gies College of Business alumnus Anthony (Tony) J. Petullo and his wife Bev have announced a wide-ranging $5.75 million gift to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The investment will be divided between the College of Fine and Applied Arts ($3.25 million) and Gies College of Business ($2.5 million) to support students, faculty, and the arts at Illinois.

The $2.5 million gift to the Gies College of Business will establish the Petullo Impact Fund. The fund will invest in faculty at Gies in the form of professorships, fellowships, chairs, PhD and post-doc support, and faculty research support.

“Tony Petullo has been a model philanthropist for Gies and for so many schools and colleges on this campus,” said Jeffrey R. Brown, Josef and Margot Lakonishok Professor in Business and Dean of Gies College of Business. “Tony cares so deeply for our students and for this university. In addition to his financial generosity, he loves engaging personally with our campus community. He wants his gifts to inspire others, and I’m happy to say he has inspired countless students and faculty through his many years of support.”

Of the $3.25 million allocated to the College of Fine and Applied Arts, $1.75 million was utilized to create the Anthony J. Petullo School of Art and Design Scholarship and Fellowship Endowment Fund, which will equally support undergraduate and graduate student scholarships and fellowships and $1.5 million to Krannert Art Museum to create the Anthony J. Petullo Art Acquisition and Conservation Endowment Fund. This fund will support the acquisition of American and European paintings, drawings, prints, and photography and the conservation of works held in the museum’s permanent collection.

“This latest gift builds on a legacy of giving and thinking with us that is already crystal clear in its intention,” stated Kevin Hamilton, Dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts and professor in the School of Art and Design. “Tony experienced how creating and experiencing art changed him as a person, and he shares that story with everyone he can. He is also, of course, passionate about ensuring that others can experience that transformation as students and museum patrons. He’s among our very best advocates in every way, and we are so grateful to be building with him.”

After graduating from the Gies Business with a bachelor’s in marketing in 1961, Tony Petullo spent three years as a US Navy officer and five years with Mobil Corporation. He founded Olsten Staffing Services, a successful temporary help firm in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and following the sale of Olsten Staffing Services in 2000, he became president of the Anthony Petullo Foundation. During the 1970s, he developed a keen interest in works by self-taught and outsider artists from Europe and the Americas. Since then, he has become a recognized authority on self-taught art and has written three books on the subject.  

“I have been a very lucky and happy man, and the University of Illinois had a lot to do with that. I had some amazing teachers and mentors during my time there,” said Petullo. “For me, philanthropy is about the relationships I’m able to build and the lives I’m fortunate to be able to touch. Business and the arts are very personal to me. They’ve been an important part of my life, and this is my way of giving back to society, to my community, and to Illinois.”