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Stanford Hits Jackpot

Yet another university has received a stupendous windfall this year. Yesterday, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation announced that it would donate $400 million to Stanford University. The gift tops by $40 million the previous largest donation to a university ever, given to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute just 2 months ago (ScienceNOW, 13 March).

Record donation. William Hewlett had a "lifelong devotion" to Stanford.

Hewlett Foundation chair Walter Hewlett said the gift was to honor his late father William Hewlett, co-founder of the Hewlett-Packard company, and "his lifetime of philanthropy, his lifelong devotion to Stanford, and his passionate belief in the value of a liberal arts education." William Hewlett died in January.

The gift is "just spectacular. It's breathtaking," says Malcolm Beasley, dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences, for which 75% of the gift is earmarked. Although Stanford as a whole isn't exactly hurting for money, his school doesn't receive the same alumni support that schools such as business and engineering do, says Beasley. The donation is "a response to a real need," he adds. "We've been worried about the financial foundations of the school [of Humanities and Sciences] for some time." The $300 million will fund endowed professorships and graduate student fellowships, and will be used to seed a fund-raising campaign aimed at raking in $1 billion for the school. The remaining $100 million will go to the Campaign for Undergraduate Education and will be used to fund undergraduate seminars and independent research and study.

William Hewlett and fellow Stanford alum David Packard founded the eponymous computer company in 1936. Previous gifts from Hewlett, Packard, and their respective foundations to Stanford already total nearly $400 million.

Related sites

Stanford's School of Humanities and Sciences
A video of the announcement and more information about William Hewlett, from Stanford
The Campaign for Undergraduate Education
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation