The University of Maryland plans to announce Friday that it has received the largest donation in its history, a $31 million gift from Brendan Iribe, a highly successful 35-year-old high-tech entrepreneur who dropped out of U-Md. during his freshman year in the late 1990s. He said the university was an inspiration to him, a place where he forged lifelong relationships, and he wanted to give back to students who are studying, and will study, computer science.
In March, George Washington University announced it was receiving $80 million in donations to support public-health scholarship through three gifts connected to philanthropists Michael Milken and Sumner M. Redstone, setting a donation record for the private university.
Last year, two private universities in the District of Columbia announced landmark donations. Trinity Washington University will receive $10 million or a new academic building, and Georgetown University will receive $100 million for a new school of public policy.
Those gifts also set records for each school. Below is a list of the largest single announced donations to various schools in the District, Maryland and Virginia, according to information the schools provided.
Among private institutions, the largest gift on The Washington Post’s list is $350 million to Johns Hopkins University. In the public sector, the largest is $100 million to the University of Virginia. Several of the records were set in the past five years, showcasing the largesse of some wealthy donors in a period of intense economic turbulence.
The largest gift to a single U.S. college or university, on a national list kept by the Chronicle of Higher Education, was $600 million pledged in 2001 to the California Institute of Technology.
Philanthropic records should be read with caution because the donor base varies widely from one school to another.
Georgetown, the nation’s oldest Catholic university, is highly selective and draws students from across the country. Its alumni can tap significant pools of wealth. Trinity Washington, a Catholic women’s school, is less selective and serves a large number of students from low-income neighborhoods in the District. But Trinity has some powerful alumnae, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Until recent times, public universities have faced less pressure to raise money than private ones. But that is changing in a new era of limits on state funding.
More caveats: These figures are not adjusted for inflation, so, for example, the $50 million record for the private University of Richmond, set in 1969, would be worth more than six times that amount in today’s dollars. It is also worth noting that many donors give quietly at intervals, amassing major lifetime totals. That sort of giving doesn’t necessarily generate headlines.
■American University (private): $20 million from Cyrus and Myrtle Katzen to establish and endow an arts center. Announced in 2005.
■Catholic University of America (private): $8 million from the Knights of Columbus to renovate a campus building. Announced in 2008.
■Gallaudet University (private): $12 million from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for a conference center on campus. Announced in 1991.
■Georgetown University (private): $100 million from Frank H. McCourt Jr., to establish and endow a public policy school. Announced Sept. 18, 2013.
■George Washington University (private): $40 million from the Milken Institute to support the university’s young and growing school of public health and $30 million from Redstone’s charitable foundation to establish a global center for prevention and wellness. Both were announced in March 2014.
■Howard University (private): $6 million from estate of C.B. Powell in 1987 for a scholarship fund.
■Trinity Washington University (private): $10 million from Joan Payden to help fund a new academic center. Announced Sept. 12, 2013.
■University of the District of Columbia (public): $1.5 million, starting in 2009, from the Charles and Hilda Mason Trust.
■Bowie State University (public): $1.99 million from Lockheed Martin in 2012 for program support.
■Goucher College (private): $6.08 million from Charlotte Killmon Wright Brown for need-based scholarships. Announced in 2000.
■Johns Hopkins University (private): $350 million, from Michael R. Bloomberg, for interdisciplinary research and student financial aid. Announced January 2013.
■McDaniel College (private): $8.1 million from the joint estate of Thomas and Catherine Eaton. Announced in July 2001.
■St. John’s College (private): $13.5 million from Ronald Fielding for financial aid. Announced in February 2003.
■Towson University (public): $10.2 million from the Robert M. Fisher Foundation to support the college of science and mathematics. Announced in June 2005.
■University of Maryland, Baltimore County (public): $5 million from the Sherman Family Foundation for a teacher-scholars program in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Announced July 2012.
■University of Maryland, College Park (public): Iribe’s donation of $31 million, to be announced Friday, is the largest gift the school has received. It will go toward scholarships and a new computer science center on campus. Three separate times, $30 million has been given — by A. James Clark to support engineering students; by Robert E. Fischell to establish a bioengineering department and biomedical devices institute; and by the Robert H. Smith Family Foundation for business school and performing arts programs. All were announced in 2005.
■University of Maryland University College (public): $6 million from an anonymous donor for scholarships and other purposes. Announced in 2009.
■United States Naval Academy (public): The academy technically does not accept donations. But the largest gift to the Naval Academy Foundation, which supports the academy, was $10 million from Jackson T. Stephens for various purposes in August 2003.
■Washington College (private): $15 million from the Hodson Trust for scholarships and other purposes. Announced in 1999.
■College of William and Mary (public): $23.9 million from the Walter J. Zable estate for athletic scholarships, stadium renovations and other purposes. Announced April 2013.
■George Mason University (public): $15.49 million, the valuation of land donated by the Van Metre Companies. Announced December 2009.
■James Madison University (public): $5 million from Bruce and Lois Forbes for a performing arts center. Announced March 2008.
■Liberty University (private): $60 million from Arthur and Angela Williams in 1997.
■Marymount University (private): $3 million from an anonymous donor, date not disclosed.
■University of Richmond (private): $50 million from E. Claiborne Robins Sr. in 1969.
■University of Virginia (public): $100 million from Frank Batten Sr. to create a school of leadership and public policy. Announced in April 2007.
■Virginia Tech (public): $25 million from an anonymous donor to support the Signature Engineering Building, now under construction. Announced in April 2011.
■Washington and Lee University (private): $100 million from an anonymous donor for financial aid and other purposes. Announced in June 2007. Subsequently the donor was identified as Rupert H. Johnson.