Owner of Kentucky Derby Winner Makes Major Gift to Pitt

Issue Date: 
May 14, 2007

Alumnus, Street Sense owner James B. Tafel makes major gift to Pitt’s business schools

Pitt has received a major gift from alumnus James B. Tafel—owner of Street Sense, the horse that won the Kentucky Derby on May 5, and the retired chair and chief executive officer for Dun & Bradstreet Technical Publishing Company—to establish two student-focused funds.

The James B. Tafel Expendable Gift and the James B. Tafel Endowed Student Support Fund will support students in the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and the College of Business Administration.

“Jim Tafel has been a great friend of Pitt for many years,” said Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg. “Recent events have given us two big reasons to celebrate—his very generous support of the next generation of Pitt business students, followed by his big victory in the Kentucky Derby. Hopefully, other potential donors will note that when a person provides generous support to Pitt, other very good things can happen.”

Tafel’s gift, to which he committed in April, continues Pitt’s commitment to increase the number of endowed funds to support students in their academic and research pursuits. Since 1997, the University has increased its endowed funds by 107 percent.

A 1950 Pitt business graduate, Tafel has given several other gifts to Pitt’s business schools. He has created the James Tafel Endowed Internship Fund to support undergraduate business students participating in professional internships; the James B. Tafel Endowment Fund to support Pitt business faculty and staff; and the James B. Tafel Fellowship, a need-based award for MBA students in their final year of study.

“Jim Tafel’s farsighted gift will provide students an opportunity to build a portfolio of relevant skills and experiences through participation in international and nonprofit internships, case competitions, and leadership development events. The gift will also ensure the availability of a high-quality business education to students who might otherwise be denied access,” said John T. Delaney, dean of Pitt’s Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and the College of Business Administration.

Tafel was honored for his long-term generosity with a 2002 induction into the University’s Cathedral of Learning Society, which recognizes individuals who have given lifetime gifts of $1 million or more to Pitt. He received a Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business in 1987 and is an emeritus member of Pitt’s Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business/College of Business Administration Board of Visitors.

Tafel began his career at Ketchum McLeod and Grove in 1950, working there as a media manager. In 1953, he joined Technical Publishing Co. and worked as a sales representative and sales manager before being promoted to president in 1967. The company grew rapidly and merged with Dun & Bradstreet in 1978. At that time, all publishing operations were consolidated, making Technical Publishing one of the largest business publishing companies in the United States. Tafel was chairman and CEO of Technical Publishing from 1978 until his retirement in 1983.

In his retirement, Tafel has joined several thoroughbred racing ownership partnerships. On May 5, his horse, Street Sense, became the first 2-year-old champion to win the Kentucky Derby since Spectacular Bid in 1979. Tafel maintains about 30 horses in training and a broodmare band of approximately 10. He keeps his breeding stock at Mill Ridge Farm, with a few at Darby Dan Farm, Chesapeake Farm, and Claiborne Farm, all located in Kentucky.