Giving Back to Your School in a Meaningful Way

A FEW weeks ago, James. R. Hodge, president of Permal Asset Management, stood in front of a new building for Indiana University’s undergraduate business students that bore his name: Hodge Hall. It’s a grand, limestone building, with Art Deco designs inspired by the Chrysler and Empire State buildings. The naming rights cost him $15 million.

“I’ve just been incredibly lucky financially, and I don’t think any of it was talent, really, just luck,” said Mr. Hodge, who grew up in Marion, Ind., and graduated from the university in 1974. “I felt compelled to give something back.”

But what looks grand today got off to a far less polished start. It was a rainy Sunday night in October 2008, just as the magnitude of the financial crisis was sinking in. The dean of Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, Daniel C. Smith, and a senior development officer, Rick Dupree, took Mr. Hodge to a nice dinner in New York City where they asked for $15 million for the building.

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