Billionaire hedge fund manager Kenneth Griffin pledged $150 million to his alma mater of Harvard on Wednesday, the largest donation the university has ever received. And all he's getting in return is his name plastered across the school.
The majority of that donation will go to supporting the college's financial aid program as Harvard attempts to, in The New York Times' words, "blunt criticism that higher education has become the province of the 1 percent." The donation will help to keep Harvard's need-blind admissions process intact, Griffin said in a statement. That financial aid budget was $182 million last year, according to The Harvard Crimson, so this will be a huge boon to its already massive coffers.
Speaking of, while this is the biggest single gift Harvard has received, there's also the question of whether giving Harvard $150,000,000 really counts as charitable giving. The university's endowment is more than $30 billion — about 30 percent bigger than the next closest school's, and more than double the average of the rest of the top ten. Not that Harvard won't make good use of the money, but Griffin is not exactly giving to the needy.
Of course, Griffin is getting his last name plastered across Harvard's campus as a thank you for that donation. Here are the buildings and positions that will now be named after Griffin:
- Griffin Scholarships: The donation will fund 200 annual undergraduate scholarships for people who cannot afford to pay the $60,000 annual cost.
- Griffin Leadership Challenge Fund for Financial Aid: This program will provide matching donations for when any other rich alumni give to financial aid, and will support 600 new scholarships.
- Griffin Financial Aid Office: As an eternal reminder of his beneficence, the entire Harvard financial aid office will be renamed in honor of Griffin.
- Griffin Director of Financial Aid: Just in case Sarah Donahue, the head of the financial aid office, forgets where she works or who paid for those undergrad scholarships, she can just look to her job title, which will be named for Griffin.
- Griffin Professorship of Business Administration: About $10 million of the $150 million donation will go to funding a professorship at the Harvard Business School, named, again, after Griffin.
“I hope that this helps the next generation of Harvard have an experience that parallels mine,” he said. From now on, that will be known as "The Griffin Experience at Harvard."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.