Alumni donations to their alma maters are nothing new—yet, this one might surprise some. The New York Times reported on Wednesday that John A. Paulson, who graduated from Harvard Business School (HBS) in 1980, has donated a whopping $400M to the university—the largest gift in its history—but not to the business school. Instead, the endowment will go toward the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, which will thus be renamed the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Harvard’s president, Drew Gilpin Faust, said in a statement that Paulson’s donation “will change Harvard and enhance our impact on the world beyond.”
Harvard announced an ambitious $6.5B fundraising campaign in 2013, and Paulson’s gift will undoubtedly take the university closer to its goal than expected at this point. Of course, last year’s $350M donation from the Morningside Foundation to the School of Public Health helped the cause notably, as well.
Paulson, the founder of the hedge fund Paulson & Company, said in a statement concerning the gift: “For 379 years, Harvard has had a profound global impact across a multitude of disciplines that benefits all of humanity,” and he called the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences “the next frontier for Harvard.” The school that will soon carry his name has announced plans to expand to Allston, Massachusetts, close to the main campus in Cambridge.