In the first two weeks of November, three research universities have reported multi-million-dollar naming gifts for academic programs. The historic donations include $30 million to the University of South Carolina, $25 million to Carnegie Mellon University and $36 million to the University of Nevada, Reno.
University of South Carolina
Nationally prominent trial lawyer Joe Rice has given his alma mater, the University of South Carolina (USC), $30 million for its School of Law, which the university will rename the University of South Carolina Joseph F. Rice School of Law.
The $30 million donation will be used to establish an endowed student scholarship fund and at least four new endowed professorships. In addition, the gift will support students completing a children’s law concentration, enhance career and professional development for students, and fund other educational priorities in the law school.
“An investment of this magnitude is often described as transformative, but this word does not do justice to the far-reaching impact that Joe Rice’s gift promises for the University of South Carolina,” USC President Michael Amiridis said in the university’s announcement. “His extraordinary generosity is not only a mark of his ongoing devotion to his alma mater, but it also ensures the Law School’s ascent as home to the highest-quality legal education and establishes a stellar trajectory for USC’s future growth and national repute.”
“My alma mater is a huge part of my family’s history and success. It gives me great pride to directly impact the lives of its students. My hope is that this worthy cause will inspire and bring out the best in generations of future lawyers, while laying the foundation they’ll need to achieve great things,” added Rice.
Rice and his family have made donations to the university for many years, including creating the Ronald L. Motley Memorial Scholarship Fund and Civil Litigation Training Program Fund and supporting the university’s Children’s Law Center.
Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon trustee Ray Lane and his wife, Stephanie, have given $25 million to support the university’s Computational Biology Department, a nationally ranked unit that includes faculty in the biological sciences, computer science, and statistics and data science.
In recognition of the gift, the university will name the department the Ray and Stephanie Lane Computational Biology Department, making it the first named academic department at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).
The gift will establish an endowment in support of the department’s priorities, and it will provide funding for the department’s new home in the Richard King Mellon Hall of Sciences.
“Ray and Stephanie Lane have been passionate advocates for the power and possibilities of computational biology since the department’s formation,” said CMU President Farnam Jahanian in a press release. “With their support, our researchers are making life-changing discoveries and creating lifesaving treatments. I am deeply grateful for their investment in Carnegie Mellon University.”
The Lanes have been long-time supporters of Carnegie Mellon, with several prior gifts on behalf of its computational biology program. According to the university, the couple has supported computational biology faculty, post-doctoral researchers, more than 20 fellowships for graduate students, as well as a computational biology high school program and other initiatives across Carnegie Mellon.
“From our first understanding of this striking and developing field, Stephanie and I have been excited by its promise to make breakthroughs that open new pathways into the unknown, advance medical research and cure diseases that impact people and families across the planet,” Ray Lane said. “To be affiliated with this critically important department has been gratifying. Watching the progress it has made in the past few years, including the real-world impacts of its discoveries, has been incredibly fulfilling, and we look forward to witnessing all that it will achieve in the years ahead.”
Ray Lane, who chaired Carnegie Mellon’s board from 2009-2015, began his career at IBM and later became president of Oracle. He’s also served as executive chairman at Hewlett-Packard and managing partner at Kleiner Perkins. Currently, he is he managing partner of GreatPoint Ventures, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm.
University of Nevada, Reno
On November 1, the University of Nevada, Reno reported receiving the largest gift in its 149-year history – $36 million from the George W. Gillemot Foundation. As a result of the donation, the university said it will create the George W. Gillemot Aerospace Engineering Department within the College of Engineering. The university expects to be awarding its first bachelor’s degrees in Aerospace Engineering in three to five years.
A portion of the gift will also be used to enhance the technology within the George W. Gillemot Dome in the university’s Fleischmann Planetarium and provide fee waivers for students who visit the facility each year.
“The University is humbled and honored to be a part of fulfilling the legacy of George W. Gillemot and his vision of preparing exceptional aerospace engineers to meet the needs of the growing aeronautics and aerospace industries,” said University of Nevada, Reno President Brian Sandoval in the announcement. “This milestone gift from the George W. Gillemot Foundation speaks to the strong commitment of the Gillemot Trustees to meet the needs of Nevada’s future, as an investment in the success of our students, faculty and staff whose innovative work is driving the next great chapter in our state’s history. This is a historic day for our University and the State of Nevada. The University is extremely grateful for this generous gift.”
George W. Gillemot, who died last December at age 96, was an engineer who developed, manufactured and patented products for telephone and communications companies. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University in 2000 for his longtime support.
“George W. Gillemot was an aviator, inventor, entrepreneur, philanthropist and dreamer, as well as a lifelong learner,” said Tom Hall, Trustee for the George W. Gillemot Foundation. “In September 2003, George proposed a new school of aviation and aerospace at the University of Nevada, Reno. This was to fulfill his passion for flight, but also to serve as a catalyst for learning, investigation, research, workforce development, and economic renewal for Nevada. George was ahead of his time, and now, we are establishing the George W. Gillemot Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University, just as George had dreamed and intended.”
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