Griffin Gives $150 Million To Harvard

Feb 20 2014 | 9:14am ET

The richest university in world just became more so, thanks to a huge donation from one of its richest alumni.

Citadel Investment Group founder Kenneth Griffin yesterday announced a $150 million donation to Harvard University, the largest-ever to the school. Nearly all of the money will go towards some 800 undergraduate scholarships.

Harvard's endowment is the largest in the world, at more than $30 billion. But in terms of single donations, it has lagged behind gifts such as the $600 million given to the California Institute of Technology by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in 2001, the $400 million financial-aid donation to Columbia University in 2007 and the $350 million former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University, last year.

Harvard recently kicked off a new $6.5 billion fundraising effort—and has already collected $2.8 billion.

Griffin said he was drawn to giving to financial aid by another Harvard alumnus, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein. The average cost of a Harvard education has risen to more than $60,000 per year.

Griffin got his start trading during his Harvard days, and founded Citadel just a year after graduating. He said he spent hundreds of hours reading finance books at the Harvard Business School library during his four years, a fact commemorated by having $10 million of the gift endow a new professorship at that school.

In honor of Griffin's generosity, Harvard's financial aid office will be named for him.

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