Wm. Polk Carey (1930-2012), benefactor of business education at Sewanee
The University of the South community mourns the passing of Wm. Polk Carey, whose support helped establish the Wm. Polk Carey Pre-Business Program. Mr. Carey (Hon '06), 81, died January 2, 2012, at a West Palm Beach, FL, hospital, surrounded by family and friends.
"Through the program that bears his name, Mr. Carey has made a difference in the lives of many Sewanee students" said Vice-Chancellor John M. McCardell Jr. "What more sterling a legacy could there be? A grateful University mourns his passing and extends its sympathy, and also its deep gratitude, to the Carey and Polk families."
In addition to general support for business education at The University, Mr. Carey's philanthropy funds the Carey Fellowships, Sewanee's business honors program at the Babson Center for Gloabal Commerce.
Nick Babson, founding director of the center, said Mr. Carey believed in the importance of having a business program that was grounded in the liberal arts tradition because of the need for future business leaders to bring to business the fruits of liberal arts education while introducing them to the more technical aspects of business. "We talked about this many times," Babson recalled.
The center's current director, Chip Manning, called Mr. Carey's commitment to raising up new generations of ethical and well-educated business leaders a lasting monument to his values and ideals.
Leader in business and philanthropy
Mr. Carey, the founder and chairman of W.P. Carey & Co., was known both as a leader in the field of corporate finance and for his philanthropy, much of it carried out through the W.P. Carey Foundation.
W. P. Carey & Co., a NYSE-listed firm, is known for innovations that provide needed capital to hundreds of companies. One the firm's most important innovations was the development of a sale-leaseback strategy for commercial real estate. The firm manages an international portfolio of approximately $11.8 billion, according to the company.
The W. P. Carey Foundation is to receive the bulk of Mr. Carey's holdings in his firm, said his brother, Francis, president of the foundation. The foundation's primary mission is to support educational institutions with the larger goal of improving America's competitiveness in the world.
Descendant of a University Founder and a President
Though Mr. Carey did not attend the University, his family connection goes back to the University's foundation; Mr Carey was a direct descendant of Bishop Leonidas Polk, who in 1856 wrote to his fellow southern bishops proposing that they jointly create the University. In 1857, the bishops of North and South Carolina,Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas signed the constitution of the new institution at Bishop Polk's family home in Bersheeba, TN.
Mr. Carey was also a lateral descendent of President James K. Polk, who served as a member of the Tennessee Congressional delegation, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, and governor of Tennessee prior to becoming the 11th President of the United States. Continuing the long family connection to Sewanee, Mr. Carey's great-nephew, Will Carey II, a 2010 graduate of the University, recently joined the advisory board of the Babson Center.
Mr. Carey was born in Baltimore, the sixth generation of his family to call Maryland home, though he no longer resided in the state. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a friend and political ally, praised Mr. Carey as a "person who understood that the world of business, the world of education, the world of art and the world of politics are not separate worlds," according to The Baltimore Sun.