Campus & Community

Gift from Jordans advances FAS, health research

4 min read

Repeat donors give $10 million gift to enrich FAS, science

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) and disease-fighting researchers across Harvard are the recipients of Jerry and Darlene Jordan’s recent $10 million gift to the University. The gift is just the latest expression of the Jordans’ generosity: Over the years, Jerry ’61, M.B.A. ’67, and Darlene Jordan have funded financial aid, athletics, and other programs at Harvard College and the Business School.Five million dollars of their gift is designated for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to help strengthen FAS programs, as well as enrich student life at the College.

“Jerry and Darlene’s gifts have a profound ripple effect,” says William C. Kirby, dean of the FAS and Edith and Benjamin Geisinger Professor of History. “They empower others to achieve in ways that instigate change and learning in wider and wider circles – beyond Harvard, and well into the world. I especially want to thank Jerry for his ongoing leadership and counsel; he continues to help those of us in the FAS meet ambitious goals and make changes at Harvard that have great impact.”

An additional $5 million will further Harvard’s work in the sciences. Specifically, the gift will support the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI), where scientists are conducting research to develop treatments and cures for diseases that affect millions of people, such as Parkinson’s and diabetes. A significant portion of the Jordans’ gift to science will endow a professorship in stem cell research at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

“We deeply appreciate the Jordans’ generosity,” says Joseph B. Martin, Caroline Shields Walker Professor of Neurobiology and Clinical Neuroscience and dean of the Faculty of Medicine at HMS. “By establishing the Gerald and Darlene Jordan Professorship in Medicine at HMS and MGH, they have made a permanent commitment to advancing the life sciences. Stem cell research is, and will be, increasingly important in our understanding of disease and its treatment.”

MGH President Peter Slavin agrees. “I am extremely grateful to Jerry and Darlene for recognizing the importance of stem cell research and the promise we hope it will bring to people with cancer, neurological diseases, and other illnesses. The Jordans clearly recognize that private philanthropy is critical to moving biomedical research ahead as quickly as possible.”

“Harvard has a long tradition in science and medicine, and we have the opportunity today to build on that and put Harvard at the heart of the most cutting-edge work in the life sciences,” says Jerry Jordan. He was inspired, he says, by President Lawrence H. Summers’ idea that Harvard may help establish Boston as the center of life sciences innovation in the 21st century, much as Florence was the 15th century nexus of the arts and high culture.

The Jordans believe that Harvard’s Allston initiative presents a superb opportunity to expand the University’s work in science, and their investment is a vote of confidence in Harvard’s vision.

“Darlene and I feel strongly that our gift will accelerate the research that can positively impact lives in the future,” Jerry Jordan notes. “We are also grateful to have David Scadden and Doug Melton as the co-directors of HSCI, two remarkable individuals who are at the vanguard of stem cell research.”

Douglas Melton, Thomas Dudley Cabot Professor of the Natural Sciences in the FAS and co-director of the HSCI, thinks that the Jordans’ vision helps to establish important links between institutions. “By creating a professorship for pioneering stem cell research, the very generous gift from Jerry and Darlene strengthens the ties between HSCI and MGH.”

The Jordans have supported Harvard for many years and in many areas – establishing the Gerald Jordan Family Scholarship Fund, funding FAS athletics and Jordan Field, and supporting Harvard Business School. Darlene Jordan is a member of the University Committee on Student Excellence and Opportunity and the Harvard Business School Board of Dean’s Advisers. Jerry Jordan is an Overseer of Harvard University and a member of the President’s Advisory Committee on Allston, the FAS Dean’s Council, the Harvard Business School Board of Dean’s Advisers, and the Visiting Committee on Harvard Athletics. He is also a co-chair of the FAS Boston Major Gifts Committee and a director of the MGH President’s Council.