Monday, September 8, 2014 4:36 pm
A Hong Kong-born venture capitalist is giving Harvard University $350 million for its School of Public Health, the largest donation in the university’s history, the Harvard Crimson reported Monday.
The university newspaper said the gift was from a foundation supported by Gerald Chan, an alumnus of the School of Public Health and a longtime benefactor of the university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and his brother Ronnie Chan.
Harvard will change the school’s name to the T.H. Chan School of Public health in honor of Chan’s late father — the first time in Harvard’s history it has changed the name of one of its schools in recognition of a philanthropic gift.
“The gift is among the largest single donations in the history of higher education,” the Crimson said.
“Only a handful, including gifts of $1 billion to Vedanta University in India and $600 million to the California Institute of Technology, have been larger,” it said.
The school’s dean, Julio Frenk, said the money would be used in all aspects of its operations with a focus on four public health threats: pandemics like Ebola, environmental concerns like pollution, poverty and collateral damage from wars and violence, and inefficient health care systems.
Chan, an investor and venture capitalist, earned two degrees from the School of Public Health in the 1970s.
“I think the HSPH has a very unique voice which should be heard more clearly within the larger community,” he told the Crimson.
The Crimson said Chan, whose father was a real estate entrepreneur in Hong Kong, has quietly bought more than $100 million in real estate in Harvard Square in recent years.