Even after 56 years of marriage, Larry A. Silverstein can still surprise his wife, Klara.
The latest surprise came about a month ago when Mr. Silverstein, the 81-year-old president and chief executive of Silverstein Properties, a real-estate development and investment firm, presented his wife with a gift of $5 million to Hunter College, part of the City University of New York.
The gift will fund the Klara and Larry Silverstein student success center on the seventh floor of Hunter's library. The center is designed so that students, many of whom commute to the college, can have a dedicated space for quiet study, to collaborate on group projects and receive one-on-one tutoring and counseling. The floor includes a new auditorium.
The timing of the gift was to celebrate Mrs. Silverstein's 11 years of service as chairwoman of the Hunter College Foundation board of directors. She earned her bachelor's degree in social sciences and master's degree in special education from Hunter. Her mother also attended the school.
It is no easy task to pull one over on a spouse—much less a spouse who has led a campaign to raise funds for the college's library—and so Mr. Silverstein worked directly with Jennifer Raab, Hunter's president, to plan the top-secret gift. His directive: "Say nothing to anybody. Absolutely nothing."
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