Schwarzman gives $350M for MIT College of Computing

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(Bloomberg) --Stephen Schwarzman, head of Blackstone Group LP, has given $350 million -- his largest personal gift -- to help establish a college of computing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing is part of a $1 billion commitment from the university and will address the opportunities and challenges produced by the prevalence of computing and the rise of artificial intelligence, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based school said in a statement Monday.

Schwarzman, who has a net worth of $12.8 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, splashed onto the big-giving scene in 2008 with $100 million to the New York Public Library.

His name will be on a campus center at Yale University for his $150 million gift. He also created the Schwarzman Scholars program at Tsinghua University in Beijing to educate future global leaders about China. He’s contributed and raised funds for the program totaling $578 million to date.

High School

Earlier this year, he gave $25 million to his public high school in Abington, Pennsylvania, to expand science and technology instruction. The school was to be renamed after him but criticism from the community shelved those plans.

Schwarzman’s gift isn’t the largest ever to a university. Nike Inc.’s Phil Knight has given $500 million to the University of Oregon, $500 million to Oregon Health and Science University and $400 million to Stanford University.

John Paulson gave $400 million to Harvard University’s engineering school. The University of Chicago’s business school was renamed after David Booth following his $300 million gift.

Record Gifts

U.S. colleges led by Harvard and Stanford reaped a record $43.6 billion in charitable contributions in fiscal 2017, according to the Council for Aid to Education, which tracks university giving. Less than 1 percent of all colleges accounted for almost 30 percent of the total raised in the year through June 30, 2017, the latest figures available.

The MIT college is slated to open in September 2019, with construction of a new building on the school’s campus, set to be completed in 2022, according to today’s statement. Fifty new faculty positions will be created.

“There is no more important opportunity or challenge facing our nation than to responsibly harness the power of artificial intelligence so that we remain competitive globally and achieve breakthroughs that will improve our entire society,” Schwarzman said in the statement.

MIT President L. Rafael Reif said the new school will be “an intellectual foundry for powerful new AI tools,” and one that equips students and researchers “to think critically about the human impact of their work.”

The initiative marks the “single largest investment in computing and AI by an American academic institution,” MIT said in the statement.

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