In their more than four decades of working closely with the late entrepreneur Harry T. Mangurian Jr., Gordon Latz and Stephen Mehallis (BA ’61, Fisher College of Business) never experienced a dull day at the office. Whether it was Mangurian’s furniture business, banking, charter jets, storage facility rentals, thoroughbred racehorses or sports franchise ownership —including five years as owner of the Boston Celtics during the Larry Bird years —the work was fast-paced and interesting. “It’s been a great ride,” recalls Latz.
After helping Mangurian make a fortune, Latz and Mehallis have another role: giving it away. As trustees of the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based Harry T. Mangurian Jr. Foundation, the two now have the privilege of bestowing philanthropic gifts to worthy causes. And that charge has led to extraordinary giving to The Ohio State University to the tune of $14.5 million, including funding for initiatives at the Wexner Medical Center, the Fisher College of Business and Ohio State Athletics.
In 2010, the Mangurian Foundation made a bold investment in the groundbreaking Drug Development Institute, a joint effort between the Fisher College of Business and the Ohio State Comprehensive Cancer Center to position the university as its own drug company. “We couldn’t be more pleased with the reports we get back from the Institute on the progress they’ve made,” says Mehallis.
They followed up in 2016 with an additional gift to cancer drug development, as well as funds to create the Human Performance Innovation Initiative, which partners the Wexner Medical Center’s Neurological Institute with the Department of Athletics and the military to study athletic performance and memory. They also created a memory disorders fellowship and a fund for dementia. The gifts are particularly meaningful given that Harry Mangurian passed away from leukemia and his wife, Dorothy, from Lewy Body Dementia. “The illnesses they both suffered have a lot to do with the emphasis on where we place the foundation’s funds,” notes Mehallis.
The Mangurian Foundation also supports national organizations like the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, universities, hospitals, and numerous south Florida non-profits helping at-risk children and families. It’s an enormous responsibility, but one Latz and Mehallis welcome. “It’s exciting, but there are such great causes and needs, both nationally and locally,” says Latz. “Every day brings new challenges.”
When many of their peers are enjoying retirement, they are busy conducting site visits to non-profits and keeping attuned to the research advances their gifts have inspired. “If you’d told me 20 years ago that I’d be doing this I would have laughed,” says Mehallis. “I figured I’d retire and have a nice life in Florida. But our definition of retirement is doing what you want to do. And we feel really good about what we’re doing.”