News and analysis
September 30, 2015

$100-Million Gift Creates Global Conflict Resolution Institute at University of Chicago

Joel Wintermantle

A $100-million gift to the University of Chicago will go in part to establish four named professorships in conflict studies and will create a fellowship program for masters and Ph.D. students.

The University of Chicago announced Wednesday a $100-million gift from the Thomas L. Pearson and Pearson Family Members Foundation to create a research institute and annual forum dedicated to the study and resolution of global conflicts.

The gift is the second largest ever for the university. In 2008, the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business received $300 million from financier David G. Booth. In 2007, an anonymous donor gave the university $100 million for student financial aid.

"Our choice of the University of Chicago for this gift underscores our recognition of the university’s history of fostering an environment where rigorous inquiry is successfully applied to society’s toughest problems," foundation Chairman Thomas L. Pearson said in a statement. "It also signifies our belief that non-state conflicts, from drug cartels to insurgent organizations such as ISIS, increasingly constitute the foreign policy challenge of our time."

The Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts and the Pearson Global Forum will be housed at the Harris School of Public Policy. The annual forum will bring together international policy leaders and scholars from a variety of sectors concerned with global conflicts. Additional conferences and related events will highlight the institute’s research findings.

As part of the gift, the university will establish four named professorships in conflict studies and create a fellowship program for Masters and Ph.D. students.

The leaders of the foundation, Thomas and Timothy Pearson, are twin brothers.

The Pearson family has a long history of supporting conflict resolution efforts. The Thomas L. Pearson and The Pearson Family Members Fund, for example, has underwritten the costs of the Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo, Norway, a musical gala that makes up part of the celebration of the awarding of the annual Nobel Peace Prize.

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