Campus & Community

Starr gift helps break economic barriers

3 min read

The Starr Foundation is giving Harvard $5 million to support the College’s new initiative to attract students from families with low and moderate income. The gift, made possible by the efforts of Starr Foundation Chairman Maurice R. Greenberg, will provide scholarships to college students and support the recruiting and outreach efforts designed to eliminate economic barriers to attending Harvard. The Starr Foundation has been supporting scholarships at Harvard since 1999 through the C.V. Starr Scholarship Fund.

With the Starr Foundation gift, Harvard is creating a $4.5 million endowed scholarship fund for students from families of low and moderate income. In addition, the gift provides $500,000 for outreach and recruiting efforts by the admissions and financial aid offices over the next five years. This generous gift will enable Harvard to name at least 20 Harvard College students every year as Starr Scholars, including at least five in each class.

“The Starr Foundation’s generosity will provide a significant boost to our efforts to attract the most talented and promising students to Harvard, regardless of their ability to pay,” said President Lawrence H. Summers.

Outreach to prospective students is key to the success and growth of this initiative. The financial aid and admissions team will increase the number of visits they make to prospective students and expand the number of mailings and brochures for prospective applicants. In addition, Harvard will hire 10 current students to call, write, and travel to meet and encourage prospective students to apply to Harvard.

Florence A. Davis, president of the Starr Foundation, said the foundation is pleased to support Summers’ efforts to make a Harvard education a possibility for students from families of low and moderate income.

“Cornelius Starr came from a family of very modest means. His mother, a widow, took in boarders in order to keep the family home,” said Davis. “Once his business was established, Mr. Starr used to pay students’ tuitions out of his own pocket. He always supported students who could not otherwise afford to pursue higher education. After Mr. Starr’s death, the directors of the foundation decided that the best way to honor his memory would be to establish endowed C.V. Starr Scholarships at colleges and universities around the world.”

The Starr Foundation is an independent foundation established by the late Cornelius V. Starr, the insurance entrepreneur who founded the American International family of insurance and financial services companies now known as American International Group Inc. (AIG). It makes grants largely for education with an emphasis on scholarships for higher education. It also supports projects related to medicine and health care, social welfare, culture, and international relations.

Greenberg, who spearheaded the gift to Harvard, is the chairman and CEO of AIG. A past chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and of the U.S.-China Business Council, he is currently honorary vice chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves as chairman emeritus and member of the Board of Governors of the Society of New York Hospital.