Biggest Donation to Colleges

  1. John Paulson donated $400 million to Harvard to support its engineering school, according to a university press release.

John A. Paulson – Harvard University

John A. PaulsonOne of Harvard’s billionaires made the largest donation the university has ever received. In June 2015, John A. Paulson, founder of the Paulson & Co. hedge fund group, gave a $400 million endowment for the School of Engineering and Applied Science. The gift supports research, faculty, and financial aid and scholarships for the rising number of engineering and computer science majors. Mr. Paulson received his MBA from Harvard in 1980.

There is no question that the support and education I received at Harvard was critical in helping me achieve success in my career. Now I feel it is important for me to do something impactful and meaningful for Harvard.

Total lifetime giving to the school: $400 million
Percentage of net worth: 3.5%

2. Phil Knight – Stanford University

Knight has donated $400 million to the school for a new graduate-level leadership program.

3. Gerald and Ronnie Chan – Harvard University

Gerald and Ronnie ChanThe Chans are brothers and business partners who worked with their father on Hang Lung Group, which made a name for itself with residential complexes along the Shanghai’s Mass Transit Railway lines. The Hong Kong–based family founded the venture-capital firm, Morningside Group. Gerald Chan earned a master’s degree from Harvard in medical radiological physics in 1975 and went back to Harvard for his doctorate in radiation biology (1979). Fittingly, the Chans’ recent gift to Harvard finances projects at the Harvard School for Public Health. To date, the gift from the Chans and their Morningside Foundation is the second-largest gift to Harvard on record.

Total lifetime giving to the school: $350 million

4. Patrick J. and Lore Harp McGovern – Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Patrick and Lore McgovernThe founder of IDG—publisher of Computerworld, Industry Standard, and PC World—graduated from MIT (no surprise there). While at the school, Patrick J. McGovern (’59) majored in life sciences, concentrating in neurophysiology with courses in computer science to satisfy his lifelong curiosity about the brain’s influence on human behavior. Accordingly, he and his wife are dedicated to helping fund brain research. He reflected on his time at MIT during an interview with a school reporter and said this:

I was thrilled to study the physical basis of consciousness. Now, the development of powerful new tools such as whole brain imaging allows researchers to address the daunting complexity of the mammalian brain and to begin to understand the biological basis for human thought, language and behavior.

Total lifetime giving to the school: $350 million
Percentage of net worth: 5.3%

4. Robert A. Day – Claremont McKenna College

Claremont McKenna College was able to create its first graduate program thanks to the gift of Robert Day (’65), the founder and chair of Trust Co. of the West (an investment management firm). Day’s gift of $200 million in cash and securities establishes a new master’s degree in finance and to fund scholarships for undergraduates who show leadership potential. Mr. Day attributes much of his business success to the education he received as a Claremont McKenna student. Day told the LA Times that the goal of his gift is to


. . . create a cadre of young people who show leadership and who have judgement, which is the hardest thing to find….I’ve been very successful and want to put it back in the system.



Total lifetime giving to the school: $200 million
Percentage of net worth: 12.5%

5. Edward P. Bass – Yale University

While his most recent gift to Yale University was a $60 million fund to renovate and build science facilities, Mr. Bass has long supported his alma materfinancially. Bass graduated from Yale in 1968 with a bachelor’s in administrative science, and he is now the chair of Fine Line, an investment and venture-capital management firm in Fort Worth, Texas. It was noted that, during a press conference for Sundance Square, he once said,

Wealth is not, you know, a matter of money. It is a matter of being able to forwardly organize our lives in a positive way.

Total lifetime giving to the school: $200 million
Percentage of net worth: 10.2%

6. Kenneth Langone – New York University

Ken LangoneThe founder of Home Depot, Kenneth Langone is a billionaire with an inspiring “rags-to-riches” kind of story. He attended classes at NYU four nights a week for his MBA and has stated that he received the proper fundamentals for his profession from NYU. Langone believes strongly in the value of getting an MBA at night. He has given money to endow a part-time evening MBA program for the Stern business school at NYU, and donated $100 million to the NYU Medical Center (which now bears his name) in 2008.

Total lifetime giving to the school: $200 million
Percentage of net worth: 7.1%


Terrence M. and Kim Pegula – Pennsylvania State University

Terrence and Kim PegulaThe founder and former CEO of a small but highly successful oil and natural gas exploration company, Terrence Pegula is not just a die-hard Penn State fan: he is also a member of the class of 1973. Pegula expressed his gratitude and love for hisalma mater by presenting the university with $88 million to create a new sports arena and to establish a NCAA Division I men’s and women’s ice hockey program. As the Pegulas told the Penn State university press,

We want to share our success with the people of Pennsylvania and with the very institution that helped me obtain the tools to launch my career in the oil and natural gas industry. We will now see through the hard work of the Penn State family that our passion will be shared with the families and communities of the region surrounding Penn State. We expect that Penn State will become a destination, not just for top college players and coaches, but also for the growing base of hockey fans from across the Commonwealth and the country.

Total lifetime giving to the school: $88 million
Percentage of net worth: 2.2%





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