An alumnus of the Harvard Business School (HBS) today made the largest gift in Harvard University’s history—a $400 million endowment that will support the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). The gift, from billionaire hedge fund manager John A. Paulson (MBA ’80), will help fund SEAS’s planned expansion across the river from Cambridge to Allston, where its scientists and engineers will occupy research and teaching facilities adjacent to HBS and the Harvard Innovation Lab (i-lab).
“John Paulson’s extraordinary gift will enable the growth and ensure the strength of engineering and applied sciences at Harvard for the benefit of generations to come,” Harvard University President Drew Faust said in a statement. “His appreciation of the importance of SEAS to faculty, students, and schools across the university has motivated a historic act of generosity that will change Harvard and enhance our impact on the world beyond.”
After graduating from HBS, the Queens-born Paulson worked briefly for Boston Consulting Group and then for multiple Wall Street investment firms before founding his own hedge fund, Paulson & Co., in 2004 with $2 million and one employee. The firm, which specializes in alternative investments, now manages $19.5 billion of money for wealthy individuals and pension funds.
Paulson expressed his appreciation for the benefits his HBS education has afforded him, even as he gave the unprecedented gift to SEAS. “SEAS is the next frontier for Harvard, and its expanding campus in Allston promises to become the next major center of innovation,” he said in a statement. In recognition of his gift, the engineering school will be renamed the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
HBS Dean Nitin Nohria praised Paulson’s generosity and the future it paves. “He understands that this gift will be the cornerstone for a Harvard campus in Allston where multiple disciplines can converge and combine their passion for knowledge, unleashing discovery in ways that truly benefit society and the world,” he said in a statement.
Paulson’s gift comes in the midst of a $6.5 billion university-wide fundraising campaign launched by Harvard in 2013. Even with its own endowment topping $3.2 billion, HBS set a goal of raising an additional $1 billion as part of the fundraising campaign, to support financial aid, faculty research, globalization, curricular innovation and enhancements to the school’s residential campus. As of the end of fiscal year 2014, HBS reported that it had raised more than $721 million toward that goal.