The Legacy and Vision of Donald G. Costello
The Donald G. Costello College of Business at George Mason University was named in honor of Prince William County, Virginia, entrepreneur and businessman Donald G. Costello on November 1, 2023, through a $50 million planned gift to Mason. This gift is the largest school naming gift in the 51-year history of the Northern Virginia-based university.
Donald Costello was born and raised in Loudoun County. He graduated from Loudoun County High School in 1960 and trained as a forward observer in the U.S. Army. After his military service, he spent the early part of his career selling paneling, millwork, and staircases in Fairfax and Prince William counties. In 1976, he and a partner founded Century Stair Company, which grew to become one of the largest stair manufacturers on the East Coast.
He lived the life of an entrepreneur starting as a teenager, working for his mother at his parents' Mighty Midget Kitchen— an iconic Leesburg, Virginia, landmark that was originally crafted in 1946 from the fuselage of a World War II B-29 bomber. It was there where his interest in running a business was born and grew into a desire to share that experience with others who wanted to learn about entrepreneurship.
His friends, business associates, and employees knew him as someone who made everyone feel welcome…and important. He was generous with his time and his money, providing financial support for students attending college and entrepreneurs launching small businesses. Costello had a major impact on the region, particularly Haymarket, where Century Stair Company is located. The naming of roads like Costello Way and Century Park Drive is an enduring testament to his legacy in Prince William County.
"Don had a long vision,” says dear friend and business associate Joe Contrucci. “He was very incisive in his thinking” and he thrived on adversity, turning every setback into a positive experience.
“George Mason University and Dad both grew side-by-side, and they both benefited from and helped drive the great growth we’ve seen in Northern Virginia during the last 50 years,” says Sara Costello, his daughter. “I hope his life and story will be an inspiration to other students who will get to attend the Costello College of Business because of him.”
“We saw Mason University as an entrepreneurial success story on its own…and as a catalyst in fueling the Northern Virginia economy,” says Joe and Peg Contrucci, also a dear friend and business associate. “This gift will further that impact by creating career opportunities and new businesses for decades to come.”
The planned gift establishes an endowment that will provide scholarships for undergraduate and graduate business students to help prepare them for successful careers as entrepreneurs. “This gift is a game-changer for the business school and the region,” notes Costello College of Business Dean Ajay Vinzé. “We are deeply grateful to Joseph Contrucci, Trustee of the Donald G. Costello Trust, and Sara Costello, for their confidence in our ability to extend the legacy of a forward-thinking entrepreneur whose creativity, hard work, and determination changed the lives of people around him.”
The Costello College of Business recognized and honored the legacy and vision of Donald G. Costello, along with the contributions of all who made this historic and transformational gift possible, during a formal naming celebration on its Fairfax, Virginia campus on November 30, 2023.