Campus & Community

Ford to add another million to $1.5 million gift

5 min read

The Ford Motor Co., through the Ford Motor Company Fund, plans to add $1 million to an existing five-year award of $1.5 million to Harvard. The new funds will support a University Committee on Environment study of the long-term environmental and economic consequences of transportation choices in developing countries, taking a multidisciplinary systems perspective. The Harvard team will collaborate with a local university on a new country case, India, expanding a study initiated in China that is led by Gordon McKay Professor of Environmental Engineering Peter P. Rogers Ph.D. ’66 and seed-funded by the Thornton Foundation.

Besides the University Committee on Environment, several different units of the University are benefiting from the original gift, including the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Business Administration, the John F. Kennedy School of Government, and the School of Public Health.

President Neil L. Rudenstine noted that the Ford partnership reflects a promising trend: “Ford’s generous gifts support faculty and students across the University in a number of important initiatives. The resources will help senior undergraduates in engineering to undertake significant research projects, while also advancing faculty research concerning the environment, international business, and other areas of vital concern. The involvement of so broad a range of our Schools and departments makes the Ford gifts especially welcome and encouraging.”

Malcolm S. Macdonald M.B.A. ’65, vice president and treasurer at Ford, led the team that put together the original grant over an eight-month period as well as the recent supplement: “We see giving to Harvard as a solid investment. Harvard faculty and students aspire to high levels of achievement, and Ford supports that kind of commitment.” Macdonald noted that, in addition to the gifts associating the company with academic excellence, Ford engages in dialogues with key faculty members, and also actively recruits Harvard students to work for the company.

Kathleen M. Gallagher M.B.A. ’85, director of pension asset management at Ford, also worked on the team that made the grant to Harvard. She said that linking with Harvard is consistent with Ford’s position in the world marketplace: “We consider Ford to be a ‘corporate citizen of the world.’ Harvard is a world-class institution with global influence. Working together makes a lot of sense for us.” Gallagher also related this perspective to Ford’s recruiting effort at Harvard. “Harvard students are interested in working for a company that is a great corporate citizen,” she said.

Jeremy R. Knowles, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), allocated the FAS portion of the original grant to the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences, led by Dean Venkatesh (Venky) Narayanamurti. In Dean Narayanamurti’s words, “These funds, which will support undergraduate design projects and allow professors to underwrite graduate students in their laboratories, are vital to our goal of establishing Harvard as a strong influence on the information technology revolution now under way worldwide.”

In discussing the gift to the Harvard Business School (HBS), Dean Kim B. Clark A.B. ’74, A.M. ’77, Ph.D. ’78 said, “Ford’s generous gift will be used primarily to fund faculty fellowships and to support the Global Initiative, a key initiative at the School. A portion of the gift also will be used to support leading-edge research and course development at HBS.”

Robert N. Stavins Ph.D. ’88, Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, said that Ford’s backing of his work, precisely because it is unrestricted, represents “a kind of intellectual venture capital fund.” As a policy analyst with a special interest in using market-based incentives to obtain environmentally sound behavior, he must move quickly to investigate new policy challenges as they arise. For example, the Ford gift allowed Stavins to expedite writing a critical examination of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

John D. Graham, professor of policy and decision sciences at Harvard’s School of Public Health, said that the Ford funds have helped his Center for Risk Analysis to pursue a number of different avenues of research. For example, he explained, “The Ford gift has helped us to prepare risk-benefit and cost-benefit analyses of the airbag systems that have been installed in 60 million vehicles in the United States. As a result of this work, the center has been able to make important recommendations on airbag safety for children.”

The latest gift will further support Harvard’s resolve to bring diverse intellectual resources to bear on complex transportation-related environmental issues, including engineering, city planning, public policy, economics, and health and atmospheric sciences. Gilbert Butler Professor of Environmental Studies and Chair of the University Committee on Environment Michael B. McElroy said, “Ford’s contribution to interdisciplinary environmental research and education at Harvard has been extremely valuable. We particularly appreciate how these gifts have fostered interactions among faculty from different Schools and the new insights these dialogues have stimulated.”

For Lynn Gilman Williams, assistant director of university corporate relations at Harvard, the Ford gifts reflect recent successes in corporate fundraising. “This has been a very productive period for corporate relations at Harvard,” she noted. “We’ve benefited from the strong leadership of the University Corporate Committee, co-chaired by Finn Caspersen [LL.B. ’66], Jamie Houghton [A.B. ’58, M.B.A. ’62], and Tom Murphy [M.B.A. ’49]. We’ve worked to enrich established partnerships with companies such as Ford, and we’ve initiated a number of new corporate relationships as well. It’s an exciting time to be part of Harvard’s effort to share our extraordinary academic and intellectual capital with organizations outside the University.”