BOSTON Feb 19 Billionaire investor Kenneth
Griffin, who started his hedge fund in his dormitory room at
Harvard University, is donating $150 million to his alma mater
in what will be the largest single gift ever made to the Ivy
Griffin, who graduated from Harvard 25 years ago, said the
gift will mainly support the university's financial aid program,
benefiting as many as 800 undergraduate students every year.
The donation should be "an investment in the next generation
of leaders as we continue to break down barriers to an
outstanding education," Griffin said in a statement.
After beginning to bet on convertible bonds while living at
Cabot House, Griffin went on to found Chicago-based Citadel LLC,
one of the world's biggest and most successful hedge funds. Last
year, Griffin's net worth was estimated at $4.4 billion,
according to Forbes.
For Harvard, already the richest university in the world
with a $32.7 billion endowment, the donation comes at a time
when ever more students are relying on aid to help pay the way.
The high cost of a college education in the United States
has saddled many young people with thousands of dollars in debt
and sparked criticism that only the wealthy can afford a
The cost of one year at Harvard can be as much as $65,150,
and currently 60 percent of undergraduates receive financial
aid, the school said in the statement. The university allows
qualified students whose families earn less than $65,000 a year
to attend for free.
"Ken Griffin's extraordinary philanthropy is opening
Harvard's gates wider to the most talented students in the
world, no matter their economic circumstances," Harvard
President Drew Gilpin Faust said in the statement.
Until now, Griffin has been known more as a benefactor of
the arts, having given $19 million to help build the Modern Wing
at the Chicago Art Institute, where he and his wife had their
During his career, the normally media-shy Griffin has often
ranked among the hedge fund industry's best-paid managers. He
was one of five billionaire managers asked to testify before
Congress about the industry in 2008.
The money will establish 200 Griffin scholars and provide
matching funds for a new program designed to create 600 more
In September, Harvard launched a campaign to raise $6.5
billion in donations with Bill Gates, the co-founder of
Microsoft Corp, who dropped out of Harvard but now
ranks as the world's second-richest person, joining in a
Harvard counts former Presidents John Adams and John F.
Kennedy, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, cellist Yo-Yo
Ma, Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein
and countless other hedge fund managers among its alumni.