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Harvard gets $100m gift from Rockefeller

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New York Times News Service / April 25, 2008

David M. Rockefeller is giving $100 million to Harvard University, his alma mater.

It is the largest gift by an alumnus in the university's history. Eli and Edythe Broad made a $100 million gift to the university in 2005, but they are not alumni.

The Rockefeller gift will support international study programs for undergraduates and support Harvard's nascent efforts to greatly expand its arts education.

"Harvard has played an important role in my life," Rockefeller, 92, said in a telephone interview. "I was a student, class of 1936, and I've been on the board of overseers. My experiences there shaped who I am."

A language requirement by the college sent Rockefeller to Germany in the summer of 1936, which awakened him to the dangers of fascism, he said, and it was there that he began his study of art, which became a lifelong passion.

Drew Faust, Harvard's president, said the gift was critical to the development of additions to the education the university offers.

Harvard has the largest endowment of any university in the world, with assets of $35 billion, but Faust said gifts like Rockefeller's were still critical.

"To outsiders, our bucket may seem full, but at Harvard, we so often see aspirations we hope to fulfill that we can never have too many resources," she said.

Last year, about 1,450 Harvard undergraduates participated in study programs abroad, more than twice as many as four years ago. But a survey by the university suggested that many more students would like the chance to study abroad but lacked money .

Some $70 million of Rockefeller's gift will help address such desires, while the rest will be devoted to arts programs.

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