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January 31, 2012

In Education: Stanford, Columbia Share $30-Million Digital-Media Gift

The former editor of Cosmopolitan, Helen Gurley Brown, has pledged $30-million to Stanford and Columbia Universities to develop technological innovations in journalism, according to The New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Stanford's School of Engineering and the Columbia Journalism School will split $24-million to establish the David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation, to be housed on both campuses. Columbia will get an additional $6-million to create a high-tech newsroom on its New York campus.

The institute, named for the donor and her late husband, the movie mogul David Brown, will team young journalists at Columbia with computer scientists at Stanford in Northern California to develop new multimedia strategies for gathering and delivering news.

"Great content needs useable technology. Sharing a language is where the magic happens," said Ms. Brown, who became synonymous with Cosmopolitan as editor of the women's magazine from 1965 to 1996.

In other education news, a former Chrysler executive has donated $21-million to Oakland University, the largest individual cash gift in the Michigan university's history, The Detroit News reports.

The contribution from Stephan Sharf includes $14-million earmarked for Oakland's medical and engineering schools and its women's golf team. The remainder is unrestricted and will support campus capital and operational spending.

University officials announced the gift as anonymous, but Mr. Sharf confirmed to the News that he was the donor. The 91-year-old, who retired from Chrysler in 1986 after 40 years with the auto maker, is a former Oakland trustee and has previously given millions of dollars to the university for scholarships, a golf course, and a clubhouse.