Kate Tiedemann Supports University Of South Florida
World traveler and philanthropist Kate Tiedemann believes passionately that hard work pays off and that you should do what you love.
Her legacy? In 2014, the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg College of Business was named the Kate Tiedemann College of Business, thanks to her generous $10 million gift. As only one of two U.S. business schools named after a woman, this honor pays tribute to the Tampa Bay entrepreneur’s success and ingenuity.
The Tiedemann gift supports the education, research, and service mission of the college, including a faculty endowment fund and academic research, technology and training, among other initiatives. Wife and former banker Ellen Cotton donated $1 million to the College as well, and the main entry bears her name (The Ellen Cotton Atrium).
The University of South Florida appealed to Tiedemann for a number of reasons; she felt that the College would be her legacy. Both Tiedemann and USF Business Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska, Ph.D share a special connection and are U.S. immigrants with a deep appreciation for creating opportunities for the next generation.
“Kate Tiedemann and Ellen Cotton are role models for young business students who dare to dream,” said Chancellor Wisniewska. “So many students will benefit by this stunning, state-of-the-art building, along with the programs and scholarships made possible from these successful and generous women.”
Tiedemann hoped her donation would give students a jumpstart on their journey to success. “It’s important to find a charity that means something special to you. I always wondered how my life would have turned out if I had gone to college. As it was, I barely finished grammar school before going to work.”
In addition to USF, Tiedemann has contributed to Morton Plant Mease Hospital Foundation, Clearwater’s Free Clinic, hospice, NJ’s Saint Clare’s and other charities.
In 2016, Tampa Bay area philanthropists Kate Tiedemann and Ellen Cotton were jointly recognized as Philanthropist of the Year at the Association of Fundraising Professionals Suncoast National Philanthropy Day 2016 luncheon. Together, they have given $11 million to the Kate Tiedemann College of Business.
Tiedemann arrived alone in NY in 1955. She worked for two and a half years as a maid and a cook for former New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey.
Eager to acquire administrative skills, Tiedemann landed her first job in the surgical instrument business as an assistant in the New York sales office of Storz Instrument Company, now part of Bausch and Lomb. Following the sale of Storz, Tiedemann and her boss launched an eye, ear, nose and throat division at Edward Weck & Company. Later she co-founded Sparta Instrument Corporation, which sold to Cooper Laboratories.
After 15 years in the surgical instrument field, she started Katena Products in the basement of her New Jersey home. Tiedemann worked with ophthalmic surgeons to design and develop eye surgery instruments, growing the company to 1,400 products sold to more than 7,000 surgeons, outpatient surgery centers and hospitals in the United States and 110 countries. The company sold to the Cortec Group in 2009.
What advice does Tiedemann give USF business students? “I would tell them to figure out what you want to do, learn about it and go for it. Get involved and fall in love with your work and that makes it fun.”