Sparky’s Quill: Who was W.P. Carey?

Everyone on the Tempe campus has passed by it at some point during their ASU career. For some, it’s where all of their classes are held. The W.P. Carey School of Business is regarded as one of the top business schools in the country. Well, whenever I pass by that Starbucks’ extremely long line, I wonder where the name W.P. Carey came from. After a little digging, I found out that William P. Carey was actually a really cool guy.

Charismatic Carey. Photo courtesy Wikipedia Charismatic Carey. Photo courtesy Wikipedia

After dropping out of Princeton University after his father died, he attended the University of Pennsylvania where he joined the Delta Phi Fraternity. He continued to be an avid supporter of the society. “Avid supporter” might be an understatement. Whatever Carey liked, he funded. In 1973 he founded the W.P. Carey & Company, a real estate investment company, which he grew into a multi-billion dollar business.

Once Carey amassed this fortune, he created the W.P. Carey Foundation, which had the sole purpose of dispersing his $100 million donations. His gifts went to the James Carey Business School at Johns Hopkins University and the Frances King Carey School of Law at the University of Maryland. In 2002, he donated $50 million to the ASU School of Business. They thanked him by slapping his name to the side of the building.

Along with being a philanthropist, he was extremely grounded in his family and their history. He was the Governor General of the Society of Mayflower Descendants and even claimed to be a relative of President James K. Polk (a fact that he was very proud of).


Want to know the origins of other ASU building or school names? Having a burning historical question? Drop us a line at or find us on Twitter @sparkysquill

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