Someone wealthy who wishes to remain anonymous has committed to donate $140 million for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to spend as it sees fit.
The money will support MIT's educational and research mission, according to an MIT announcement. The contribution from an alumnus allows MIT "to invest in daring, high-risk ideas; address some of the world's most urgent challenges; and sustain support for students, faculty and the physical campus," according to MIT News, an online publication of the university.
“No one has ever made it through life without someone else's help," the donor said in an anonymous statement.
The donor said she or he received "generous financial aid" from MIT and was "extremely appreciative of all the ways that MIT has shaped me.”
“I am also inspired by MIT's vision in tackling global challenges, and I trust its leadership to take bold steps to make the world a better place. I am blessed to be able to give back to the Institute so other students can experience what I did, and so that the institute can continue to excel in groundbreaking achievements," the donor continued. "I hope this gift inspires others to give back to MIT and to pay it forward to the society that we all share.”
MIT President L. Rafael Reif called the donation “the vital fuel that helps big ideas take off,” MIT News reported. “This remarkable gift will magnify our strength in education, research and innovation and help foster transformative discoveries, inventions and solutions to conquer new frontiers and build a better world. We are honored by the expression of confidence this donor has shown in MIT's capacity for impact, and we are grateful for this visionary support.”
The gift will be targeted to innovative thinking that MIT calls one of its hallmarks. "Unrestricted dollars" can go toward funding initiatives that "may be too risky to qualify for backing from traditional sources."
The donation could fund laboratories, staff support and equipment that would push discoveries, for example, in Alzheimer's disease treatments. Another area where this funding could be applied, MIT said, is in physics, "where MIT faculty have played a primary role in detecting the largest collection of antimatter particles recorded in space — helping to advance our fundamental knowledge about the universe."
MIT says it is "one of five colleges and universities in the United States that provide all undergraduate financial aid based on need," meaning if you are admitted to the school on merit, academics or sport, the institution will fund you.
“In order to take on the world's most pressing problems, we need the very best faculty and the brightest students working in the finest facilities. Unrestricted funds are critical in providing scholarship aid for our undergraduates, startup funds for junior faculty members, and support for campus renewal,” said Israel Ruiz, MIT’s executive vice president and treasurer. “The demand for unrestricted dollars to enable MIT to continue to push the boundaries of knowledge is never fulfilled, and we are grateful to donors at all levels who signal their trust and belief in MIT with these kinds of gifts.”
Today's announcement comes as MIT enters the second year of the public phase of its $5 billion Campaign for a Better World, which seeks to advance the institute's work on some of humanity's toughest challenges. As of June 1, MIT has raised $3.4 billion toward the campaign goal, with gifts coming from more than 87,000 alumni and friends.
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