American financier Charles Schwab became a pioneer in the discount brokerage business after he started his eponymous firm in 1971. Using a loan from his uncle, Schwab first opened a traditional brick-and-mortar brokerage in San Francisco, California. The business really took off when Schwab started charging half of what full-service brokers did after an SEC deregulation of brokerage commissions. More than just creating a successful company, Schwab went on to revolutionize the financial industry. Today, the company is one of the nation's leading financial services firms with approximately $3.75 trillion in client assets. Schwab was CEO of the company until 2008 and remains both its chairman and largest shareholder with an 11% stake. In addition to his professional commitments, Schwab also takes an active interest in a variety of volunteer and non-profit activities. Along with his wife Helen, he is the Co-founder and Chairman of the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on helping children with learning disabilities nationwide and also focuses on supporting low income families. As of February 2017, his net worth is estimated by Forbes to be $8.2 billion.

After graduating from high school, Schwab attended Stanford University despite having lower grades than many of his future classmates. Rather, his performance as a golfer helped open the door to Stanford, a school that was prepared to relax some of its academic requirements for a student athlete who could advance the golf team. In 1955 Schwab joined the first residents of Soto House in Wilbur Hall. It was only then, as a freshman, that he began to realize the full extent of his difficulty with written expression. He was smart and very popular, but he also suffered from undiagnosed dyslexia. With the help of sympathetic roommates and prepared course notes, Schwab pushed through his undergraduate years, focusing on the quantitative and technical subjects that were his strength. In 1959 he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. Afterwards he continued on and found that his entrepreneurial skills helped him in Stanford’s School of Business, where he received his Master of Business Administration in 1961.

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To date, Schwab remains one of the university's most generous donors. His Stanford-related activities have included service as a Stanford University Trustee, service on the Stanford GSB Advisory Council, and service on the advisory board of the Stanford Center for Economic Policy Research. He's also been known to whip out his checkbook when needed. Over the years, Schwab has been personally responsible for funneling millions of dollars back into his alma mater's coffers for numerous growth projects, including his role as a major financer for the 1999 creation of the Center for Electronic Business and Commerce at Stanford Graduate School of Business, and also funding the endowment for the Charles R. Schwab Professor of Economics. But perhaps Schwab's most recognizable gift on campus bears his name. In 1997 the Schwab Residential Center, a 280-unit dorm building, opened its doors following a $28.3 million donation from one of Stanford's biggest success stories.