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Unusual Gift, Extraordinary Giver


The culmination of Fred Zeidman’s illustrious 55-year career in investments, acquisitions and mergers provided blessings to the University of St. Thomas in the form of shares in a bitcoin mining company. This unusual gift, currently valued at $100,000, is similar to donating stock but with even “better tax advantages.” 

Recognizing a Golden Opportunity

Recently, Zeidman had a golden opportunity to participate in a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), which aligned with his family values to give back to the community. To participate in this particular SPAC—Good Works Acquisition Corporation (GWAC)—he committed to give half of his compensation to non-profits. 

Having spent most of his life donating “way above my means” to non-profits, he cherished the opportunity to give generously. So he excitedly agreed to become Chairman and CEO of the proposed company in order to participate. The result is a significant gift to UST from an extraordinary and forward-thinking giver.

Coining himself an excellent “drainer of the swamp,” or good at identifying and solving problems, this champion of company turnarounds acquired Cipher Mining for GWAC. He then turned around and donated 10,000 of his founder shares to St. Thomas—“a university with an important role in the growth of Houston. UST is conveniently situated near energy companies and the Texas Medical Center, an ideal location for the training of Houston’s workforce.”

Highlighting Diversity in UST’s Supporters

Zeidman, a member of the Jewish faith, knows St. Thomas first-hand. He served on the Board of Directors from 2009-2015 and chaired many committees, including development, finance and marketing. Zeidman is keenly aware that St. Thomas is an excellent university with the flexibility to meet the educational needs of employers. He also understands that UST will continue to thrive. Still, it must expand beyond its Catholic donor world and invite others to learn about this academic gem’s impact on the city and beyond. Zeidman believes UST is, and will continue to be, part of what makes Houston great. 

What Is Bitcoin Mining?

An honest man, Zeidman laughingly admits he doesn’t know much about bitcoin mining. And it doesn’t matter. He determined from thorough research that Cipher Mining’s management team could build a thriving enterprise. For those who want to learn about bitcoin mining, it is a process that results in the creation of new bitcoin. Here’s how it works: High-powered computing systems do a lot of high-intensity data processing – extremely complicated computations. As the computer system does that complex work, it gets paid in bitcoins.

The Philanthropic Tax Advantage

Zeidman predicts new trends are coming to philanthropic giving. “Interestingly, people have given away stock for years; a lot of them give stock without cash,” he said. “And while giving stock has excellent tax advantages, this GWAC gift is distinctive. While still having great tax advantages, I also have no cost in this gift, but the University has value, and that makes a tremendous difference. This gift reflects the best of my thinking.”

About the Author — Sandra Soliz, MLA '01 Soliz

AvatarSandra Soliz, director of Communications for University of St. Thomas, has served the University for 20 years in Marketing Communications Department. In her position, she handles media relations and serves as the editor of the Encounter Magazine.

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