Campus & Community

Kennedy School to receive $15 million gift

4 min read

Will endow center for business and government

At a time when the collaboration of business, government, and civil society has never been more critical for the success of nations and for achieving great public objectives, the John F. Kennedy School of Government has announced a $15 million agreement to endow the work at the School’s Center for Business and Government.

The gift from Sharmin Mossavar-Rahmani and her husband, Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani, a Kennedy School alumnus, will permit the center to expand significantly its long-term capacity for research, scholarship, and teaching on some of society’s most challenging problems at the intersection of business and government. In recognition of this gift, one of the largest in the Kennedy School’s history, the center will be named after the Mossavar-Rahmanis, and a celebration will take place in fall 2005.

Harvard University President Lawrence H. Summers said, “I am grateful for Bijan and Sharmin’s faith and investment in our work to create an instructive, policy-oriented environment for a rich network of academic, private sector, and government partnerships focusing on inspired and enduring institutional capacity building.”

Kennedy School Dean David Ellwood commented, “The nexus between business and government has never been more central to the public interest. A productive private sector is essential for a modern society. Effective leadership, incentives, and regulation can further public desires for transparency, corporate social responsibility, affordable energy, or environmental protection. And increasingly collaborative relationships between business and government are leading to more effective services and ideas in the public sphere. Bijan and Sharmin Mossavar-Rahmani’s extraordinary gift will allow the Center for Business and Government to reach a new level of teaching and scholarly excellence and practical influence at precisely a time when it is most important.”

“The respective roles of the public, private, and civil society sectors today are being fundamentally realigned, at home and abroad. Some of the changes under way are hotly contested, others are seen to be full of promise. This generous gift from Bijan and Sharmin will allow the Center for Business and Government to move forward aggressively in coming years better to understand and guide these historic shifts. We will examine the issues, facilitate the dialogue, and seek answers to these central challenges facing our world,” said John Ruggie, director of the center.

A graduate of the Kennedy School, Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani M.P.A. ’82 is a leading authority on global energy markets and has published extensively on the subject. Chairman of Mondoil Enterprises, a privately held company engaged in international oil and gas exploration and production with a focus on West Africa, Mossavar-Rahmani is active in industry and international affairs, and is an avid collector of 19th century Persian art. He and his wife, Sharmin Mossavar-Rahmani, an investment strategist and author who is a managing director at Goldman Sachs and serves on several nonprofit boards and councils, say the gift will help realize their wish to support the broad mission of the center. “The Kennedy School is a terrific, unparalleled venue for this effort; it is a privilege – and a responsibility – to be supportive. We hope that the center’s programs and activities will in future inspire graduate and also undergraduate students at Harvard to contemplate careers that alternate between the public and private sectors,” they said.

Established in 1982, the Center for Business and Government mission is to help enrich the Kennedy School’s curriculum, to conduct research, and to bring together public and private sector leaders to discuss business-government issues. Through multidisciplinary and multistakeholder efforts, the center bridges the gap between theory and practice. It currently houses programs and research on corporate and social responsibility, regulation and regulatory institutions, environmental economics, electricity policy, energy policy, technology and economic policy, digital governance, collaborative governance, trade negotiations, education and school health care delivery, AIDS, and joint efforts in Asia and Ethiopia.