University of Pittsburgh

Philanthropist William S. Dietrich II Passes Away

Philanthropist and former steel industry executive William S. Dietrich II, a member of the Board of Visitors for the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration, has passed away.

Dietrich died on October 6 at the age of 73 after an extended illness. He leaves behind a legacy of more than $400 million in gifts to Pittsburgh colleges, including $125 million for Pitt.

Dietrich earned both his M.A. and his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Pittsburgh. He was a member of Pitt's Board of Trustees since 1991 and served as the Board's chairperson from 2001 to 2003. He also has served as the chair of the Board's Audit, Investment, and Conflict of Interest committees.

Dietrich's $125 million gift to Pitt, announced just weeks before his death, was the largest individual gift in the school's 225-year history. The University's School of Arts and Sciences will be named the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences in honor of Dietrich's father.

In the mid-1960s Dietrich assumed day-to-day operations for his father's company, Dietrich Industries. He transformed Dietrich Industries from a small steel warehouse and distribution business into the nation's largest manufacturer of light metal framing for the construction industry. In 1996, Worthington Industries bought Dietrich Industries and asked Dietrich to stay on as director, a position he held until his retirement in 2008.

The source of the fund that will benefit Pitt is The Dietrich Charitable Trusts. The charitable trusts are remainder trusts that own assets principally generated by his 1996 sale of Dietrich Industries.

In commenting on his gift to Pitt, Dietrich said he made the investment in Pitt from the perspective of a graduate and citizen of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

"As a graduate who personally benefitted from my own studies at Pitt, I want to ensure that the University can continue to provide educational opportunities of the highest quality to its undergraduate and graduate students. As a citizen of Southwestern Pennsylvania, I want to help secure the future of one of this region's most important institutions and hope that this gift will encourage others to join with me in supporting the University," Dietrich said before his death.