Large Private Gifts Enhance Top-Tier Institutions

Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York and founder of the finance and technology company that bears his name, is an alumnus of Johns Hopkins University. Last year, he bestowed a $1.8 billion on his alma mater, the largest gift in the history of American higher education. Nationwide, gifts to educational institutions of more than $10 million totaled more than $6 billion for the first time in 2017, continuing a post-recession surge in mega-gifts to colleges and universities. Donors made 194 such gifts in 2018, marking another record.

Large gifts are only one source of income for colleges and universities, but they provide significant insight into an institution’s plans for expansion and improvement. Checking out the recent large gifts that a school receives and the purposes to which those funds are designated can tell you much about how the school’s future. This information may help you make your college selection decision. 

Large donors are usually alumni. Sometimes they’re people who have professional connections with the school or perhaps they’ve been impressed by its graduates or feel a need to help a good school in dire need of funds. Whatever their motives, attending a school with support from deep-pocketed backers has obvious advantages. The funds that a school receives from them will be invested in new facilities, equipment, faculty, services, or practices as designated by the donor.  

Gifts to colleges and universities of more than $50 million that were made between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018, are listed below in Table A. Gifts of the same amount are listed alphabetically by receiving institution. 

Table A: Largest Private Gifts to Higher Education in 2018


1.Johns HopkinsMichael R. Bloomberg$1.8 billionFinancial aid for qualified low- and middle-income undergraduate students, with the goal of making admissions permanently “need-blind”.
2.MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman$350 millionEstablishment of the Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing, which will integrate computer science and artificial intelligence across MIT’s five undergraduate school
3.Harvard  Blavatnik Family Foundation $200 million Support for medical research to develop tools to diagnose, prevent, and treat disease; provision of space for biotech start-ups in the Blavatnik Harvard Life Lab.
4.Yale Edward P. Bass$160 millionSupport for renovation and expansion of the Yale Museum of Natural History.
5.Colorado Anschutz Foundation $120 millionFunds for new health-sciences building, research, faculty, and technology transfer programs.
6.MichiganRichard and Susan Rogel$110 million Support for scholarships for medical students and for research, treatments, and endowed professorships at the Rogel Cancer Center.
7.Amherst Anonymous$100 millionGift to the college’s capital campaign, which aims to raise funds for student aid, faculty support, and the new Science Center.
7.BrownRobert J. and Nancy D. Carney$100 millionSupport to help the Robert J. and Nancy D. Carney Institute for Brain Science in developing cures for neurological conditions including Alzheimer’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
7.Harvard Anonymous$100 millionSupport for Harvard’s Science Center and a fellowship in mathematics as well as resources for the undergraduate School of Arts and Sciences
7.United World College SystemShelby Davis$100 million Support for 100 annual undergraduate scholarships for 20 years for students to attend the system’s 17 campuses worldwide.
8.Western State Colorado Paul M. Rady$80 millionSupport for establishment of the new Paul M. Rady School of Computer Science and Engineering, including a new building.
9.Johns HopkinsWilliam H. Miller $75 millionCreation of an endowed professorship for the chair of the philosophy department, eight other endowed professorships, and endowed support for junior faculty members, undergraduate philosophy students, and postdoctoral fellows.
10.Princeton Perelman Foundation $65 millionEstablishment of Perelman Residential College to help advance the institution’s goal of expanding undergraduate enrollment by 10%.
11.Amherst Anonymous$50 millionGift to support the college’s new Science Center, hiring of more faculty, and establishment of more need-based scholarships.
11.Brown Samuel M. and Ann S. Mencoff$50 millionSupport for endowed professorships, medical research, and medical education at the Brown Institute of Translational Science
11.Carleton Wally and Barbara Weitz$50 million Contribution to the college’s capital campaign to increase financial aid and internships.
11.Carnegie Mellon Tod and Cindy Johnson$50 million Support for undergraduate scholarships and programs to help students graduate.
11.Northeastern Amin and Julie Khoury$50 millionEndowment to build the undergraduate Khoury College of Computer and Information Sciences.
11.Oregon State Gary R. Carlson$50 millionSupport for the Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine and for the expansion of the university’s Small Animal Hospital
11.St. John’s of AnnapolisWiniarski Foundation $50 million Funds for the capital campaign that is intended to allow the college to lower tuition by about a third.
11.Saint Louis UniversityJeanne and Rex Sinquefield$50 millionSupport for the new Saint Louis University Research Institute, the Sinquefield Center for Applied Economic Research, and the chess team.
11.UC San DiegoAndrew J. Viterbi$50 millionGift for the Viterbi Family Department of Ophthalmology and the Viterbi Family Vision Research Center
11.Penn Marc J. and Carolyn Rowan$50 millionSupport for the Wharton Budget Model, an economic-policy analysis program, and for new professorships and fellowships at Wharton.


Source: Chronicle of Higher Education

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