April 25, 2008 / 3:23 PM / 11 years ago

Harvard gets record $100 million gift from Rockefeller

Harvard University doctoral candidates cheer as they are officially awarded their degrees during the university's 2003 commencement ceremonies in Harvard Yard in Cambridge, Massachusetts, June 5, 2003. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

BOSTON (Reuters) - Philanthropist David Rockefeller donated a record $100 million to Harvard University’s undergraduate program, the largest gift by a Harvard alumnus in the history of the oldest and richest U.S. college.

About $70 million will be used to expand Harvard’s student travel and study abroad programs and $30 million will go to arts education, the Cambridge, Massachusetts, school said in a statement on Friday.

Rockefeller, 92, the last surviving grandchild of billionaire oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, is listed by Forbes magazine as one of the 150 wealthiest Americans, with an estimated fortune of $2.7 billion.

He graduated in 1936 from Harvard College, the school’s undergraduate arm.

“Harvard opened my eyes and my mind to the world,” Rockefeller said in a statement. “It was because of Harvard’s language requirement that I spent the summer of 1933 in Germany and saw firsthand the ominous rise of fascism. And it was at Harvard that I first studied art history,” the noted art collector said.

The gift will provide annual stipends for students going aboard and the Office of International Programs, among other programs at Harvard. Harvard is the wealthiest U.S. university; its endowment is the largest in the world, with assets of $35 billion.

Rockefeller had previously given $40 million in gifts to Harvard, including $25 million to create the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard said.

“This is a magnificent act of generosity from an extraordinary friend of Harvard,” said Harvard University president Drew Faust.

Reporting by Jason Szep, editing by Patricia Zengerle

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