Kenneth C. Griffin ’89, billionaire CEO of a hedge fund and Republican megadonor, gave $300 million to Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the university said on Tuesday. Griffin has given more than $500 million to Harvard, so the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences will be renamed in his honor.
They are “truly thankful” for Griffin’s “continued confidence and steady involvement,” and Harvard President Lawrence S. Bacow and FAS Dean and President-elect Claudine Gay noted this in an announcement published Tuesday morning.
This donation coincides with the 150th-anniversary celebrations planned for the 2022-23 school year at GSAS. “For the past 150 years, GSAS has nurtured and expanded the ambitions of students who have changed the world through their vast and varied scholarly pursuits. Now, the Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences will do the same,” Bacow and Gay wrote.
Griffin made his fortune in business, founding the investment firm Citadel LLC in 1990 and the trading firm Citadel Securities in 2002; his name appears on the undergraduate financial aid office at Harvard University as a result of a $150 million donation he made in 2014. Around $57 billion are under Citadel LLC’s management at the moment.
As Griffin has not placed any conditions on his donation, Harvard can use the money however it sees fit. The donation will be used to ensure the University’s “long-term excellence in teaching and research” across all academic disciplines, per an official press statement.
“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,” Griffin said in the release. “I am excited to support the impactful work of this great institution.”
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Griffin gave over $60 million to Republican candidates in the 2022 election cycle, in addition to the $500,000 he gave to President Joseph Biden’s inaugural committee. The news that Griffin would not be voting for President Trump’s reelection campaign made headlines last November.
Instead, Griffin endorsed Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. DeSantis has not officially declared his candidacy for president. In a press statement, GSAS Dean Emma Dench expressed gratitude for the contribution, writing, “support our students as they engage in the inquiry and innovation that will ultimately lead to positive impact on the world.”
Since 1638, when the University acquired John Harvard’s name in recognition of his donation, the Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is the third Harvard school to be renamed in honor of a contributor.
T.H. Chan, the father of private equity investor and contributor Gerald L. Chan, inspired the renaming of Harvard’s School of Public Health to honor him in 2014. Hedge fund tycoon John A. Paulson gave Harvard $400 million in 2015, prompting the university to rebrand its School of Engineering and Applied Sciences under his name.
More than $1.5 billion of Griffin’s wealth has been contributed to philanthropic causes like the Art Institute of Chicago and the Obama Foundation. In 2023, Griffin was recognized as one of America’s Most Generous Givers by Forbes magazine.
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