Philanthropist Likes His New Jacket, New Building

CLEVELAND (AP) - The investigation was top secret. The task -- to find a thank-you gift for a billionaire.

Case Western Reserve University was concerned that philanthropist Peter B. Lewis might be a bit hard to shop for. So some brainstorming was needed to come up with just the right thing, said Edward Hundert, CWRU president.

Wednesday, during a dedication ceremony for the new Peter B. Lewis Building on campus, Lewis was seen wearing his new jacket adorned with golden braid off one shoulder, sweeping colors, elaborate images and even inscribed quotes.

To produce the jacket, university officials worked with Lewis' family in secret to decide on the symbolic images and even enlisted help from his tailor to ensure a good fit, Hundert said. Across the back is a panel with several images of Lewis.

The inside of the jacket is lined with plans for the interior of CWRU's new building.

Lewis, an ardent art collector and the billionaire chairman of Progressive Insurance, received the jacket during a dinner Tuesday night.

"I was honored," Lewis said. "It was a lovely moment."

The university Wednesday celebrated the dedication of its $61.7 million building (model pictured, above). Lewis donated $36 million and endorsed the curvy metallic design by architect Frank Gehry, a Lewis friend.

Lewis in June was critical of CWRU, saying its governance needed reforming.

But in an interview before the dedication, Lewis told The Plain Dealer: "I'm not mad at anyone. I care about Cleveland and I care about this business school."

Mohsen Anvari, dean of the Weatherhead School of Management that is now housed in the Lewis Building, used the ceremony to announce a new MBA program in bioscience entrepreneurship, geared to helping scientists learn how to bring their ideas to market.

Gehry described working with Lewis on a building to "shake up" the business world.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)