Harvard announced today that an alumnus and his wife made a $100 million gift to support the Science Center, enhance mathematics scholarship, and provide unrestricted resources for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS).
It is the first nine-figure gift made to Harvard since The Harvard Campaign concluded in June, and the largest to date in new President Larry Bacow’s tenure.
“This remarkable gift will provide powerful momentum for the sciences at Harvard,” Bacow said. “We are grateful to the donors for sharing our commitment to Harvard’s academic mission and advancing life-changing scholarship. This is a critical investment in ideas that will create exponential value not only for Harvard students and faculty, but also for society as a whole.”
The 1990s alumnus of the College made the gift as a tribute to his father, as a show of confidence in Bacow’s presidency, and to commemorate the strategic leadership of Michael D. Smith, the Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences from 2007‒2018.
“My undergraduate experience was an amazing time in my life,” the alumnus said. “I feel so much love for Harvard, my classmates, and my professors, some of whom are still part of my life today. I have truly admired Mike’s thoughtful leadership, and I have great confidence in Larry’s vision. But I especially want to show the love, respect, and admiration I have for my dad, who sacrificed so much to make my education possible.”
The largest component of the gift will be allocated to the Science Center, ensuring that this core facility is world-class in its labs, equipment, technology, and renovated spaces. The Science Center is Harvard’s central hub for undergraduate science and mathematics.
The donors also made two allocations for Harvard’s mathematics program, one an exchange fund to advance academic collaborations in mathematics and applied mathematics between Harvard and universities in Israel. The designation will provide resources for research, lectures, travel, and other activities by graduate students, postdoctoral students, and faculty. The second fund will support a postdoctoral fellowship in mathematical finance.
The unrestricted portion of the gift will provide flexibility for FAS leadership to address pressing needs and to green-light new opportunities that support students, faculty, facilities, and technology.
“Having a significant fund of flexible resources gives us critical capacity to sustain our core mission, embrace new innovation, and prepare our students for lives of leadership and service to the world,” said current Edgerley Family Dean Claudine Gay. “This gift will make such a difference in the lives and scholarship of students and faculty for many years to come.”
Unrestricted philanthropy has been pivotal in advancing research in big data, brain research, and climate science at Harvard. Flexible funds also have been key in enhancing student life. With these resources, Harvard has been able to attract world-class faculty, offer unparalleled curricula such as the popular first-year seminar program series, and create new research programs such as the Dean’s Competitive Fund for Promising Scholarship, which supports faculty pursuing innovative and high-impact research opportunities.