News and analysis
September 26, 2016

Gifts Roundup: Finance Mogul Donates $20 Million for New African-American Museum

Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images

Civil-rights pioneer Rosa Parks's dress on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington. The museum announced a $20 million gift from private-equity billionaire Robert Smith shortly before it opened on September 24.

A roundup of notable gifts compiled by The Chronicle:

University of Vermont

Robert and Helen Larner pledged approximately $66 million to endow the medical school, which will be renamed the Robert Larner M.D. College of Medicine.

Dr. Larner, an internist, is a Vermont native and attended the university on a scholarship. He earned an undergraduate degree there in 1939 and an M.D. in 1942. He built a medical practice in Los Angeles and is a commercial real-estate investor.

Baruch College

The college, a part of the City University of New York, will get $30 million from investment banker Austin Marxe. The gift supports the School of Public and International Affairs, which will be renamed for the donor pending a vote Monday by the college’s trustees.

The money will fund scholarships and expanding the faculty at the public-affairs school. Mr. Marxe graduated from Baruch in 1965 with an accounting degree and went on to found the AWM Investment Co.

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Billionaire investor Robert Smith gave $20 million to support the new Smithsonian museum’s community-outreach, curatorial, and digitization programs.

The museum has named its family-history center for Mr. Smith. Through its Community Curation project, the center will help ensure that the stories and contributions of African-Americans from all walks of life will be recorded and accessible.

Mr. Smith is the founder of Vista Equity Partners, an investment firm focused on enterprise software, and serves as chairman of the Board of Trustees of Carnegie Hall.

Auburn University

Raymond and Kathryn Harbert committed $15 million for a new building on the campus of the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business.

Mr. Harbert founded Harbert Management Corporation, an investment-management firm. He graduated from the university in 1982 and serves on its Board of Trustees. Ms. Harbert graduated from Auburn in 1981. The business school was named for Mr. Harbert following a $40 million gift from the couple in 2013.

Tufts University

Mary Jaharis and her son, Steven, donated $15 million through their Jaharis Family Foundation for a new anatomy laboratory at the university’s medical school. A $2 million portion of the gift will be used for scholarships.

Ms. Jaharis is the widow of Michael Jaharis, the founder of several pharmaceutical companies. Mr. Jaharis, who died in February, served as a university trustee from 1993 to 2003 and was a longtime chair of the Board of Advisors to the Tufts School of Medicine.

Steven Jaharis graduated from the medical school in 1987 and is a physician who practices family medicine in the Chicago area.

Holy Cross Hospital

Phil Smith, owner of the Phil Smith Automotive Group, gave $7 million for a neuroscience institute and to establish the Phil Smith ALS and Movement Disorder Clinic.

The donation will support an expanded relationship between the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., medical center and Massachusetts General Hospital. The institutions will collaborate on research, clinical trials, and new treatments for patients with neurological and movement disorders.

Mr. Smith has earmarked $2 million of the gift to match donations from others.

Academy of Arts and Sciences

David Rubenstein, co-chief executive of private-equity firm the Carlyle Group, donated $5 million to establish the David Rubenstein Enhancement Fund.

The money will back a number of programs, including the academy’s new Access to Justice Project, which will examine efforts to provide legal services to low-income Americans.

The gift will also support research into how the arts can bridge gaps between individuals and nations; create the Exploratory Fund, which will back academy members’ research and policy projects; and pay for a public lecture series.

The donor is an elected member of the institution.

Ballet Austin

Ernest and Sarah Butler gave $3 million to endow new dance productions by Stephen Mills, the Texas ballet company’s current artistic director, and his successors.

Dr. Butler, a retired otolaryngologist, and his wife are longtime supporters of the dance troupe, to which they’ve given nearly $10 million over the last 17 years.

To learn about other big donations, see our database of gifts of $1 million or more, which is updated throughout the week.

Send an email to Maria Di Mento.