News and analysis
March 20, 2017

Gifts Roundup: Muslim Family Gives $15 Million for Study of World Religions

Lyndon French for The New York Times/Redux

Zoreen and Rafat Ansari were born in Pakistan but raised their three children in Indiana. The family’s $15 million gift will create the Institute for Global Engagement With Religion.

A roundup of notable gifts compiled by The Chronicle:

University of Notre Dame

Rafat and Zoreen Ansari and their three grown children donated $15 million to create an institute at Notre Dame dedicated to the study of religions around the world.

Mr. and Ms. Ansari are medical doctors who were born in Pakistan and raised their family in South Bend, Ind., the home of the university. They are Muslim and said in a news release that they hope the new center will encourage partnerships among religions to solve problems like violence and poverty.

Faculty at the Rafat and Zoreen Ansari Institute for Global Engagement With Religion will study how religious teachings, traditions, history, practice, and thought inform today’s shifting patterns of global migration, conflict, peace building, political culture, and human development.

Boston University

Stephen and Janet Zide gave $10 million for a new theater complex, which will be named for Ms. Zide’s parents, Joan and Edgar Booth.

Mr. Zide is a senior adviser at Bain Capital and earned a law degree from the School of Law in 1986.

The gift is meant as a tribute to Mr. Zide’s wife and in-laws who, he said in a news release, introduced him and the couple’s four children to live theater.

Northwestern University

David Freedman pledged $3 million to support research, conferences, and curricula on social-justice issues at the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications.

The money will establish the David F. Freedman Fund for Social Justice Reporting Initiatives and will back programs focused on wrongful convictions, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, globalization, and other issues.

Mr. Freedman retired in 2014 as a partner of the global law firm Baker & McKenzie. He earned a bachelor of science in journalism from Medill in 1981 and was a reporter covering suburban politics at the Miami Herald before becoming a lawyer.

He donated money in 2011 to create the Medill Equal Media Project, which supports student reporting on LGBT issues.

Old Dominion University

Robert Mitchell committed $3 million to endow scholarships, faculty, and programs at the School of Accountancy within the Strome College of Business.

Mr. Mitchell earned an accounting degree from the university in 1987 and owns and operates an accounting firm in Vienna, Va.

University of Maryland

Richard and Jane Sherman gave $1.5 million to the Health Sciences & Human Services Library to create the Richard and Jane Sherman Center for Health Care Innovation.

The center’s offerings will provide doctors, medical students, nurses, and other health-care professional with academic, corporate, and scientific materials focused on improving how doctors and other health-care practitioners interact with their patients.

Mr. Sherman is a retired internist and cardiologist. He earned a medical degree at the university’s School of Medicine in 1972. Ms. Sherman practices holistic nursing and earned a Ph.D. at the School of Nursing in 1985.

The Shermans said in a news release that they hope the center will be a place where students can develop new ideas about how to serve patients.

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

Send an e-mail to Maria Di Mento.