Harvard University announced today that business leader and philanthropist Kenneth C. Griffin ’89 has made a gift of $300 million to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) to support the School’s mission and to advance cutting-edge research and expand access and excellence in education for students and scholars regardless of economic circumstances. This unrestricted gift furthers Griffin’s philanthropic legacy at Harvard, which spans four decades and totals more than $500 million.
In recognition of Griffin’s commitment to Harvard’s mission over the years, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences will be renamed the Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in his honor.
Griffin’s most recent gift builds on his commitment to expanding opportunity and his legacy of transformational support for the FAS and across Harvard. His $150 million contribution to financial aid in 2014 remains the largest single gift to undergraduate financial aid and to Harvard College. That endowed gift currently supports 228 undergraduates — and has supported more than 600 to date. It also established the Griffin Leadership Challenge, which inspired alumni and other donors to establish 654 new scholarships during a four-year period and made it possible for the FAS to raise $600 million for undergraduate financial aid.
Griffin’s latest gift positions Harvard to continue to attract the best students and scholars from around the world.
“Ken’s exceptional generosity and steadfast devotion enable excellence and opportunity at Harvard,” said Harvard President Larry Bacow. “His choice to support FAS underscores the power of education to transform lives and to expand the reach of our research in every field imaginable. It has been a great pleasure to get to know Ken throughout my presidency, and I am deeply and personally appreciative of the confidence he has placed in us — and in our mission — to do good in the world.”
Griffin’s gift to the FAS provides essential resources to support every aspect of the School’s mission, particularly long-term excellence in teaching and research within and across its many fields and disciplines. The FAS is home to Harvard’s undergraduate program as well as all of Harvard’s Ph.D. programs. The 40 academic departments and 30-plus centers of the FAS support a community unparalleled in its academic excellence across the broadest range of liberal arts and sciences disciplines, powering truth-seeking and problem-solving at Harvard and well beyond.
The gift also underscores the power of graduate education, with graduate students and faculty creating new knowledge that enhances understanding across every area of study. Those students become the next generation of scholars, with some advancing knowledge and innovation as academic leaders at universities throughout the world and others applying their research to create new therapies, technologies, and tools to advance human health or help drive the economy.
Griffin’s gift enables such pathways and provides a firm foundation for the FAS to pursue student success and cultivate deep expertise and new collaborations across disciplines and departments.
“Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences is committed to advancing ideas that will shape humanity’s future, while providing important insight into our past,” said Griffin. “I am excited to support the impactful work of this great institution.”
“I have witnessed firsthand the impact of Ken’s philanthropy in my time as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences,” said Claudine Gay, Edgerley Family Dean of the FAS. “His extraordinary investment in our institution and, notably, his understanding of the power of unrestricted funds have been essential to our School’s ability to confidently advance academic excellence in service to the world, while navigating headwinds from the pandemic to shifts in the economy.”
Griffin’s gift to the FAS comes at a moment of opportunity as the School undertakes a broad strategic planning process focused on delivering a forward-looking vision for excellence in graduate education, faculty support and development, and organization of academic communities. As part of that broader work in the FAS, the Graduate School convened a faculty-led working group focused on admissions and education, designed to ensure that students graduate with the potential to serve as intellectual leaders for the 21st century.
As the Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences takes on its new name, it is also marking its 150th anniversary. Situated within the FAS, Harvard Griffin GSAS offers Ph.D. and select master’s degrees in over 57 departments and programs. Through degree and non-degree study and visiting and outreach programs, the School connects students with all parts of the University.
“As we celebrate our sesquicentennial this year, we are looking ahead to our next 150 years and imagining what our current students will achieve,” said Emma Dench, Dean of the Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and McLean Professor of Ancient and Modern History and of the Classics. “This investment in the Faculty of the Arts and Sciences cannot help but support our students as they engage in the inquiry and innovation that will ultimately lead to positive impact on the world.”
Noting the celebration of the School’s milestone, Bacow reflected on how important graduate education and research are to Harvard’s mission. Graduate research helped create vaccines to curb the spread of COVID-19, a development made possible by basic research done decades ago that helped scientists understand how mRNA could be used to code proteins that incite a protective immune response, thereby controlling viral infections. Research in philosophy and ethics is now helping guide how colleges and universities educate those who are making advances in artificial intelligence. And research in data science is helping scholars and policymakers understand sources of economic opportunity and social mobility.
Griffin’s most recent gift builds on his previous support for faculty and students, including the $150 million gift in 2014 to expand undergraduate financial aid.
Last month, Harvard announced another expansion of the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative (HFAI) for low- and middle-income families. Beginning with the class of 2027, the cost to attend Harvard College, which includes tuition, room, board, and all fees, will be free for families with annual incomes below $85,000. This is an increase from the $75,000 annual income threshold announced last year. Today more than half of undergraduate families receive need-based scholarships and one in four families pay nothing toward the cost of a Harvard education.
Griffin, who concentrated in economics and began investing from his dorm room in Cabot House as a sophomore, has also made gifts to the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard Law School, and Harvard Business School. He has supported important University priorities such as stem cell research and, recently, a professorship in economics in honor of Professor Martin Feldstein. In 1999, he established the Wayne R. Gratz Scholarship in honor of his grandfather.
Griffin is the founder and chief executive officer of Citadel, one of the world’s leading alternative investment firms. He is also the founder and non-executive chairman of Citadel Securities, one of the largest market makers in the world. His innovative philanthropic initiatives have made him a leader in advancing breakthroughs in science and medicine, enabling longer and healthier lives, as well as in expanding access and opportunity in education, equipping the next generation of leaders with the tools needed to succeed. Griffin’s leadership during the COVID-19 crisis helped mobilize partners across government, business, and healthcare to fund critical research and safely rescue hundreds of Americans from Wuhan, China. He also provided crucial thought leadership that laid the foundation for Operation Warp Speed – a U.S. program designed to accelerate the creation and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.