by Benson Agoha
Billionaire Hedge fund manager and former Harvard Old boy, Kenneth C. Griffin of the Class of ’89 has donated $150 million to the college, making history as the biggest donor in the history of the institution.
According to the Harvard Crimson, the billionaire also directed that at least $125 million of the gift should be used to support financial aid at the College.
"The gift, announced by the University on Wednesday afternoon, is the largest single donation in the history of Harvard College," the Crimson said in a Breaking News post.
It said the gift will fund 200 new scholarships named for Griffin, and create a fund to match other donations in support of 600 additional scholarships.
"$10 million of the gift will fund a new professorship at Harvard Business School, and the remaining $15 million has not yet been directed, it said.
University President Drew G. Faust said "It sets a marvelous standard of generosity and also a standard for financial aid giving," adding "[The gift] is structured in part as a challenge...in order to try to involve other people in contributing to financial aid, and I hope that it also sends a message to alums about how...important it is to make sure that Harvard is available to students from every kind of economic background."
The donation has earned Griffin a special recognition and according to the Crimson report, the Harvard College Office is to be renamed in his honour.
"With the gift, the Harvard College Office of Financial Aid will be renamed in Griffin’s honor, and the center’s executive director, Sarah C. Donahue, will now be referred to as the Griffin Director of Financial Aid," according to the release.
Making the donation, Griffin said in a press release “My goal with this gift is to help ensure that Harvard’s need-blind admission policy continues, and that our nation’s best and brightest have continued access to this outstanding institution.”
Griffin began his investing ventures in his Cabot House dorm room as an undergraduate and established the Chicago-based Citadel hedge fund a year after graduating with a degree in economics in 1989, the Crimson said adding that he remained affiliated with Harvard, later serving on the Financial Aid Task Force.
"In 1999, the year of his tenth reunion, Kenneth Griffin endowed a scholarship in honor of his grandfather."
“This is one of those things that you dream might happen and you hope [for], but you never expect it would take place,” he said, “but here we are,” said the Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons.
Another happy person over the donation is Michael D. Smith, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, who is reportedly, a close friend of the billionaire, and who was instrumental in securing the gift. He said “Ken’s astounding philanthropic leadership has set financial aid—one of the most important priorities of the College’s capital campaign—on a lasting foundation.”
Kenneth C. Griffin is listed by Forbes as having an estimated net worth of $4.4 billion.
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