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Posted at 05:43 PM ET, 04/12/2012

The most generous higher-ed donor ever?

Is Michael Bloomberg the most generous giver in higher education history?

Is this the most generous man in higher education? (Kham/Reuters)
Officials at Johns Hopkins University totaled the New York mayor’s giving to mark Thursday’s opening of a new children’s hospital center, the fruit of his latest $120 million contribution. The total surpasses $800 million, starting with a 1965 gift of $5.

Has anyone ever given more to a college? The Chronicle of Philanthropy tracks such things and concluded as follows:

“Because many donors give anonymously, it’s impossible to say . . . but according to Chronicle figures, he would certainly be near the top.”

The philanthropy journal couldn’t find anyone else who had given even half as much. John Kluge, the late television mogul, gave more than $400 million to Columbia University, his alma mater, the Chronicle said. Financier Sanford Weill and his wife have given a like amount to Cornell. T. Boone Pickens has given at least $345 million to Oklahoma State.

Bloomberg worked as a parking lot attendant while attending Hopkins, where he graduated in 1964 with an engineering degree. He returned in 2010 as commencement speaker.

Here are a few of the largest individual gifts to colleges, compiled mainly from Chronicle of Higher Education clippings:

• CalTech: $600 million from Intel co-founder Gordon (and wife Betty) Moore, 2001

• Columbia University: $400 million from John Kluge, 2007

• MIT: $350 million from publisher Patrick (and wife Lore Harp) McGovern, 2000

• Cornell University: $350 million from duty-free-shopping magnate Charles Feeney, 2011.

• Carnegie Mellon University: $265 million from steel magnate William Dietrich II, 2011

• Cornell University: $250 million from banker Sanford (and wife Joan) Weill, 2007

• University of Colorado system: $250 million from Internet entrepreneur William Coleman III (and wife Claudia), 2001

• University of California at San Francisco: $240 million from the estate of delivery-service magnate Larry L. Hillblom, 1998

• University of Texas: $232 million from oilman John A. (Jack) Jackson, 2002

• University of Pennsylvania: $225 million from philanthropists Raymond and Ruth Perelman, 2011

• New York University: Land, art and cash valued at between $250 million and $500 million from art collector Sir Harold Acton, 1994

By  |  05:43 PM ET, 04/12/2012

Categories:  Development | Tags:  philanthropy, Johns Hopkins University

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