Manhattan College alum gifts school record-breaking $25M

School of Business will now be named for Thomas O'Malley


In 2012, outgoing board of trustee president Thomas O'Malley donated $10 million to his alma mater, Manhattan College, then the largest single gift the school has ever received.

But as of Monday, that record no longer stands. Students and faculty were told that a much larger gift has been delivered to the school — $25 million. And once again, it's O'Malley — a retired oil refinery executive — writing the check.

Thomas O'Malley"Mary Alice and I are pleased to continue our support for Manhattan College," O'Malley said, speaking for his wife, in a release. "It's an institution that has remained faithful to its core values. It provides top quality education in a dynamic and open environment, while at the same time maintaining its Catholic identity. 

"A very substantial portion of the studen body supports Lasallian traditions of service to those less fortunate by volunteering in local, national and international support programs."

The money, according to school officials, will be used to help increase student scholarships and grants, support innovative teaching and research, and enhance and diversify learning opportunities within Manhattan College's School of Business.

And speaking of the School of Business — it will have a new name: The O'Malley School of Business, with a formal dedication set for September.

"The O'Malley gift takes our School of Business to a whole new level," said Brennan O'Donnell, president of Manhattan College, in a release. "It allows us to expand and deepen our curriculum and research, encourage innovative pedagogy, and strengthen our support for experiential learning. We are extremely grateful to Tom, Mary Alice and their family for their steadfast generosity in supporting students, faculty and programs."

O'Malley grew up in a working class family on Staten Island, paying for his education through a series of jobs that included school bus driver, taxi driver, cafeteria worker and even a lifeguard, according to a release. He graduated from Manhattan College in 1963, and then served six months in the U.S. Army Reserves. 

After his military service, O'Malley joined the commodity trading company Philipp Brothers in Europe, returning to the United States in 1975, where he was named president of the company's energy division. 

Three years after Salomon Brothers took over Philipp in 1981, O'Malley was named vice chair, leaving in 1986 to pursue an investment in a small California oil refining company called Tosco.

O'Malley became Tosco's chair and chief executive in 1990, spending the next 10 years building it up into the largest independent oil refiner and gasoline retailers in the country. 

After the company was sold in 2001, he turned to a second independent oil refinery company, once again building it up until it, too, was sold to the Valero Corp.

School administrators say O'Malley's life reflects a lot of Manhattan's current student body: 33 percent of its undergraduates are first-generation college students, 55 percent hail from the tri-state area, and recent business school graduates have secured jobs at some of the biggest corporate names in the country and world. 

O'Malley served on a number of boards throughout his life — not just corporate, but also philanthropic and educational. He was a trustee for Manhattan College between 1987 and 2002, and was named chairman in 2005, a position he held until 2012. He received an honorary doctorate from the school that same year.

Thomas and Mary Alice O'Malley have been married more than 50 years with four grown children and 10 grandchildren. They now reside in Palm Beach, Florida, and maintain a home in Greenwich, Connecticut.