OC real estate titan leaves $42M to alma mater

Late Patrick F. Cadigan made fortune on multi-family, after graduation from Claremont Graduate University

Patrick Cadigan and the Claremont Graduate University at  150 East 10th Street (Boston College, Claremont Graduate University)
Patrick Cadigan and the Claremont Graduate University at  150 East 10th Street (Boston College, Claremont Graduate University)

An Orange County real estate developer has bequeathed $42 million to Claremont Graduate University, his alma mater.

A foundation launched by the late Patrick F. Cadigan, who earned his master’s and PhD at the nearly century-old campus on the eastern edge of Los Angeles County, has given the school its largest gift ever, the Claremont Courier reported.

The $42 million will fund a new school of arts and humanities.

“It’s transformational for us,” Claremont Graduate University President Len Jessup told the nonprofit newspaper. “All the gifts are valuable, but this one, it’s needless to say, would be the largest gift in the university’s history.”

Cadigan, of Corona del Mar, was the former CEO and president of Electronic Engineering Co. of California, based in Santa Ana, and was the largest private real estate holder in Orange County, according to the Orange County Register.

When he died in April 2020 at 85, he had a portfolio approaching $1 billion, with apartment complexes accounting for much of the assets. The son of Irish immigrants was known for giving to schools that shaped his illustrious future. A decade ago, he gave $27 million to two Jesuit schools in Boston – Boston College High School and Boston College – which he attended as an undergraduate.

“I’ve been very fortunate,” Cadigan told the OC Register about the gifts. He joked, “I don’t need the money. What are you going to do, eat it?”

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Claremont Graduate University had reached out to Cadigan for a gift toward an arts and humanities building in 2018.

He met with school officials a year later, while in poor health, and peppered them with probing questions about the proposed new building site and the school’s vision for it. When he died, Cadigan’s will included $42 million for the building project.

Requests for proposals have gone out for the new building, to bear Cadigan’s name. Jessup said the two or three-story structure will likely measure 40,000 square feet, to be built on a two-acre lot on Dartmouth Ave., between 12th St. and Drucker Way. A ribbon cutting could take place as early as September 2024.

Cadigan largesse follows a $14 million gift from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians in December 2020.

Design work for a new Yuhaaviatam Center for Health Studies, funded by the San Manuel gift, was by Ontario-based Brian R. Bloom Architect, and awaits city approval.

[CC] — Dana Bartholomew

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