News and analysis
November 23, 2015

Gifts Roundup: New England Patriots Owner Gives Harvard $20 Million

Stacy Revere, Getty Images

A $25 million donation for the University of Mississippi's athletics department will help establish the Gerald M. Hollingsworth, M.D., Athletic Scholarship Endowment.

A roundup of notable gifts compiled by The Chronicle:

University of Mississippi

Dr. Gerald Hollingsworth, a surgeon and businessman in Niceville, Fla., gave $25 million for the university’s athletics department.

Of the total, $15 million will establish the Gerald M. Hollingsworth, M.D., Athletic Scholarship Endowment. The remaining amount will support a fundraising campaign and the athletics stadium.

Mr. Hollingsworth earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the university in 1953. He served in the 1950s as a U.S. Navy flight surgeon and then started a private medical practice in 1959. He also owned automobile dealerships and invested in commercial real estate.


Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook, and his wife, Priscilla Chan, pledged $20 million to EducationSuperHighway, a nonprofit working to equip schools with high-speed Internet connections.

The couple gave the gift through Startup: Education, a nonprofit they established to oversee Mr. Zuckerberg’s and Ms. Chan’s education grants.

Harvard Business School

Robert Kraft, chief executive of the Kraft Group, a holding company with interests in paper and packaging, sports and entertainment, real-estate development, and a private-equity portfolio, pledged $20 million to the business school to establish the Kraft Endowment for Advancing Precision Medicine.

Mr. Kraft owns the New England Patriots, the reigning Super Bowl champions of the NFL football league.

The money for the business school will be given through the donor’s Robert and Myra Kraft Family Foundation. The gift will support the school’s collaboration with other institutions to develop new ways of treating diseases through precision medicine, a type of personalized patient care based on the use of a person’s genomic information. Mr. Kraft’s wife, Myra, died in 2011 from complications of ovarian cancer. During Ms. Kraft’s illness, the family met Dr. Eric Lander, founding director of the Broad Institute and a professor of biology at MIT and of systems biology at Harvard Medical School. Through him, the Kraft family learned about precision medicine.

University of San Francisco

The real-estate developers John and Susan Sobrato pledged $15 million to the University of San Francisco to renovate and expand its War Memorial Gymnasium and convert it to a mixed-use center for both athletics and other programming.

The couple founded the Sobrato Organization, a commercial development firm in the Silicon Valley area of California. The company created the headquarters for companies like Apple and Netflix.

Augustana University

Myron Domsitz, a scientist, and his wife, Altie, left $5 million to support a scholarship program they established in 1999. The late couple were graduates of the university. He graduated in 1933, and she in 1936.

After earning a Ph.D. in physics at the University of Iowa, Mr. Domsitz worked as a geophysicist with an oil-well surveying corporation in Corpus Christi, Tex. During World War II, he was appointed to the National Bureau of Standards and was one of the scientists who helped develop the then top-secret radio proximity fuse, which was used with the first atomic bombs.

Mr. Domsitz died in 2005 and Ms. Domsitz this year.

Pennsylvania State University

Charles Smith pledged $5 million to support brain-repair research and advance developments in treatments for traumatic brain injuries, strokes, Alzheimer’s, and other neurodegenerative conditions.

He graduated from the university with a bachelor-of-science degree in electrical engineering in 1948 and worked for H.O. Smith and Sons, a real-estate development firm his father started in 1951.

Mr. Smith later founded the State College Television Company, now State College Audio-Visual Supply.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Peter Meehan, a North Carolina businessman, and his wife, Prudence, gave $1 million to the university’s School of Social Work to support scholarships, recruit faculty, and pay for new programs.

At least $150,000 of the gift will expand scholarship assistance to students pursuing a master’s degree in social work, and $500,000 will endow the Prudence F. and Peter J. Meehan Early Career Professorship to support assistant and associate professors.

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.